Kingsland volunteer firefighters rely on grant funding to help answer the call

KINGSLAND — In drought or high water, volunteer firefighters often become the first line of defense when danger strikes.

“They have a priority because of the devastating wildfires we’ve seen. The devastating drought situations have really impacted the fire departments,” said Lori LeBlue, Lower Colorado River Authority grants program manager.

The LCRA awarded the Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department an $18,635 grant Jan. 3 through the Community Development Partnership Program, in partnership with Central Texas Electric Cooperative.

[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”In Video”][/tab] [tab title=”Photo 1″]Kingsland VFD [/tab] [tab title=”Photo 2″]Kingsland VFD - LCRA Grant[/tab] [/tabs]Volunteer departments also played a key roll during floods, like the flood of 2007, which recorded 17 swift-water rescue calls within an 18-hour period.

“Our droughts are interrupted by floods,” Kingsland VFD Assistant Chief John Raschke said. “When that happens, we have to work on our low-water crossings.”

The grant will help the volunteer department purchase a swift-water rescue boat.

“It will let us replace the boat we had before, which gives us capabilities of doing any kind of water rescues,” Kingsland VFD Chief Danny Stone said. Fire officials were forced to retire a worn vessel about two years ago.

Raschke said the boat will be give them the ability to respond to rescues on water instead of standing on shore.

Other funding has included a $116,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service that helped the volunteer department purchase a 2,000-gallon pumper tanker in the past two years.

“We’re pretty limited on resources. We are all donations with the exception of a little bit we get from Llano County (about $2,500 per year),” Stone said. “Without this, there’s no way we could get good equipment where we could actually do our jobs.”

Kingsland VFD covers about 101 square miles in the unincorporated area of Llano County and reported about 330 service calls in 2012.

connie@thepicayune.com