TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - During the last legislative session, Texas lawmakers squabbled over what to do with the state's Rainy Day Fund, as all agencies faced massive budget cuts. Gov. Rick Perry argued to save it for a future emergency like a hurricane or a rash of wildfires like this.
On Friday, the leader of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association said the state should heavily consider that option. As KXAN found out, there is not enough money to fund this fight fully, especially if you are a volunteer.
"Each set, just what you see here is about $300, and it's because it's made of fire retardant material," said SFFMA Exec Dir. Chris Barron, who is also the chief of the Manchaca Volunteer Fire Department, as he held up some of the gear his crew recently purchased.
MVFD has been working with other crews on three fires in central Texas this week.
Barron said volunteer fire fighters make up most of the state's firefighting force – more than 25,000 - and do not always get money back when they shell out their own.
"About 86 percent of all volunteer firefighters around the nation take money out of their personal pocketbooks in order to put fuel in the trucks or buy equipment for the fire department," he explained.
FEMA funding will help, if it comes through, especially since the started cutting back on Sept. 1.
"That state (Texas Forest Service) grant program that effects volunteer fire departments got cut from $25 million a year to just $7 million."
"It's something I choose to do," said Dennis Wright, one of Barron's firefighters. "I'm a volunteer, it's what you do."
A spirit of sacrifice. For them, maybe losing a little. For others, saving a lot more.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.