ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Big Country volunteer fire chiefs are having mixed opinions about Texas A&M Forest Service offering up to $3,000 of refunds used for recruitment purposes. Fire chief of Eula Volunteer Fire Department, Roy Galinak, said since the firefighters do not get paid, it is difficult for them to recruit.
“Because most of us like to live in houses and have groceries and cars and whatnot,” Galinak explained.
Texas A&M Forest Services tried to help with volunteer recruitment by offering refunds of up to $3,000 for resources such as banners, billboards and other promotional items. However, local chiefs like Galinak, are having mixed emotions about it.
“I can’t say $3,000 would be a bad thing, but that’s a start,” said Galinak.
He said this might help get people in the door, but the funds that follow, including getting them into gear, would be much more.
“If you were to join the fire department right now, it would cost $5,000 just to outfit you,” Galinak explained.
There are also other expenses, like working on the fire trucks. Galinak said a brand new engine would cost about a half million dollars.
Chief of Clyde VFD, Richy Barr, said he believes this could be beneficial for some departments.
“Especially to a lot of the smaller departments that are having trouble, I mean I know some that only have three or four people show up,” Barr explained.
He says there are grants available for other things that need funding like gear and repair equipment.
“It’s just tough to get. I think the forest service has gotten a lot better about it, so I think they are making a step in the right direction,” Barr expressed.
On the other side, chief of ECCA VFD Gary Young said he doesn’t see how funding like this could be beneficial and explained that a billboard in his area may not be helpful to them, but what they need is funding for other things.
Kyle McAlister shared that he sells billboards around the Key City for non-profit or volunteer organizations and donate the space for the billboard. The companies only have to pay for the vinyl, which is about $250 every four weeks on a smaller billboard.