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New grant available for volunteer fire departments in response to wildfires

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Posted at 9:16 PM, Aug 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 22:16:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new emergency grant application is now open for Texas volunteer fire departments. It's part of Gov. Abbott's Wildfire Disaster Declaration.

On Thursday, Texas A&M Forest Services said they were accepting applications for the grant. It was created in response to the several wildfires this summer season.

The Bluntzer Volunteer Fire Department is a small volunteer service that has about 18 active volunteers. A lot of their equipment is funded by grants, which is why they are hoping to receive the wildfire disaster grant.

With the wildfire disaster grant, volunteer fire departments can apply for up to $15,000 to help replace essential equipment.

"We have personal protective equipment that is damaged, but most of the stuff will be fire hoses and tools that were in the truck," Lt. Rene Guerra said.

The grant said firefighters are responding daily to wildfires.

The Bluntzer Volunteer Fire Department saw an increase in fire calls this summer, even hitting a new record. In august of this year alone, they've already responded to 10 calls, which is double what they would normally see around this time.

"The counties that are on the bill, it wouldn’t surprise me if all departments in those counties apply for those grants because during this time and the same time last year, we’ve had these bad fires and they’ve taken a toll on equipment across the state," Guerra said.

Different departments across the state will receive different amounts of funding depending on what equipment needs to be repaired or replaced. The Bluntzer Fire Department uses one of their own volunteers to write grants in hopes of receiving the most amount of funding they can get.

"Having an internal grant writer saves us money. We can allocate more of those funds to our needs," Guerra said.

The Texas A&M Forest System said many wildfires are expected to continue through the rest of August because of drought in the area. Nueces County is one of eight Coastal Bend counties eligible for the grant.

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