AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas A&M Forest Service opened emergency grant applications Thursday for volunteer fire departments in areas included in Governor Greg Abbott’s wildfire disaster declaration.
The Aug. 11 disaster declaration in 191 counties covers wildfires that began on July 24.
“Volunteer firefighters are our first line of defense against wildfires in Texas,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “During this active summer season, these firefighters are responding to wildfires daily. They work in extreme conditions that not only challenge them physically but also cause their equipment to become worn and damaged.”
A high volume of wildfires is expected to continue through next Sunday Aug. 26 for the eastern two-thirds of Texas due to underlying drought, critically dry fuel and periods of elevated to near critical fire weather, the Forest Service said.
It also said Thursday it was helping firefighters by administering emergency grants through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program.
The emergency grants pay for essential equipment that needs to be repaired and replaced during response efforts, the Forest Service said. Essential equipment can be repaired or replaced for 100 percent of the cost up to $15,000, it said.
According to the Forest Service, apparatus replacement, or replacement of water tenders, large and small brush trucks or large and small truck chassis can be replaced for 90% of the cost up to various amounts, the maximum being $240,000.
The budget allocated for declared disaster emergency grants is 10% of the Rural VFD Assistance Program budget, according to the Forest Service. That is nearly $1.7 million this fiscal year.
The Forest Service said Texans should stay wildfire aware and immediately call 911 if a wildfire is spotted.