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Funding to VFD's Continues to Shrink

Budget cuts to state grants for volunteer fire departments have reduced those grants by more than 70 percent over the past three years.  Officials say those cuts have had a huge impact on VFD's across the stat, but local volunteer firefighters say they're faring a little better.
    In Nov. 2010, Lake Arrowhead Volunteer Fire Department received a state grant that helped them purchase a tanker truck that holds three thousand gallons of water.
    Had they applied for that grant today, Chief Mike Hall says they probably wouldn't have received it.
    "From what I understand, the funding is such that those aren't going to be available anymore, or very rarely," Hall says.
    And he's right.
    Representatives with the Texas Forest Service say they no longer have room for those requests in their budget.
    "We're not accepting applications right now for trucks, for engines.  Departments that need that sort of thing, and those are expensive trucks, they're about $100-thousand, we're not able to fund those through our grants program right now," April Saginor,
    Annual grants to volunteer fire departments have been slashed by more than 70 percent in the past three years.
    In 2009, yearly grants totaled $25 million as opposed to $7 million today
    Local VFD's are handling the budget shortfalls by cutting back on equipment.
    "A lot of the things we get equipment wise, bunker gear and all that, we used to pick up relatively easy through the grants, is not quite so simple anymore," Hall says.
    Hall says his department and others will have to depend more on fundraisers to try to make ends meet.
    "Just try to see how it goes from day to day and get ready for another season, because it looks like this year is going to be just as bad as last year," Hall says.
    Texas Forest Service representatives say state money for training and protective gear for volunteer firefighters has remained stable, so that's what the $7-million they have in their budget will be used for.
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