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.
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