Hopkins County Commissioner Court and Fire Chief Andy Endsley Monday recognized Tira Volunteer Fire Department for 44 years of service to the community.
“This is ongoing as part of the 20th year celebration of Hopkins County Fire Department to recognize each one of the volunteer fire departments. We all work hand in hand together wither with Hopkins County Fire Department. Tira is one of those now 11 departments within Hopkins County,” said HCFD Chief Andy Endsley.
“I know these guys. I see John and Shawn pretty regularly at the courthouse doing everything that they do. The big thing that you do is out there in the community. I appreciate, we appreciate your service,” Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom said during Monday’s regular commissioners court session.
Tira Volunteer Fire Department began in 1975 with Mayor Tom Clifton as the first fire chief and firefighter. Other members included firemen Herm Weir, Coy Vicars and Ernest Shaw.
Tira VFD’s first known fire apparatus was a 6-wheel white Army truck, issued by the Texas Forestry Service, which also furnished the tank and pump. In 1980, the Army truck was replaced by a 1979 Dodge one-ton truck, which was housed in the utility bay of the Tira Community Center. The one-ton truck was later remodeled to serve as a grass truck and is still being used today.
Tira VFD Chief Richard Bearden later purchased a 2002 Dodge 4-wheel drive. The members recognized a need for a Rough Terrain Vehicle, which was purchased while Malcom Joslin was chief. John Martin, who currently serves as chief, equipped the apparatus for fighting small fires.
Growth demanded addition to the station, which was enlarged to a three-bay facility. The first county attack truck, a 1985 GMC model donated by Sulphur Bluff Volunteer Fire Department, was restored, put back into service and continues to meet the needs of the community today.
In 2015, the Tira City Council named John Martin fire chief. In July 2018, the department purchased a 1986 Pierce Arrow Engine.
Endsley noted the purchase of the Pierce is expected to help lower the ISO rating for property within 5 miles of the station. County fire officials have been working with ISO officials and are working to schedule another visit with the county’s ISO representative to further that process.
“When they bought this engine, pretty much these two gentlemen right here [Chief Martin and Assistant Chief Shawn Martin], you had a couple of other ones in there, but they recruited some guys to come in from the Tira community. It’s much noted by the court. We’re very proud of that,” Endsley said.
Today, the Tira Volunteer Fire Department has 10 members who continue to serve and protect the Tira community and Hopkins County using fire apparatus. Current members include Tira VFD Chief John Earl Martin, Assistant Chief Shawn Martin, Captain Tony Macy and firefighters Curtis Rivera-Fulgham, Mike Ruth, David Ruth, Robert Hanson, Jonathan Savage, Cooper Adams and Alan Joslin.
“Tira is one of those departments you know is going to be there. Chief John Earl, he’ll come by and he visits with me quite a bit, so we have a very good personal relationship on top of that. I’d just like to extend my personal gratitude for all Tira does for Hopkins County,” Endsley said.
“We’ve got some good people, from your average citizen to an airplane pilot, and they know what they’re doing. We train them every Sunday down there at the station. We try to make sure we’ve got enough stuff to get the job done, whatever it takes. If anybody needs help, no matter if it’s on the other side of the county, we’ll go. All they’ve got to do is say the word and we’re on the way. We do the best we can to protect any and everybody,” Tira VFD Chief Martin said.
Endsley noted that John Earl Martin is just a year shy of 50 years service as a volunteer firefighter with various departments in Hopkins County.
“That’s phenomenal in itself, that many years of commitment to the Hopkins County community. His commitment and the dedication we appreciate very, very much,” Endsley said.
“Hopkins County Commissioners Court urges all citizens to applaud the outstanding efforts of the Tira Volunteer Fire Department, to recognize the dedication in their perseverance to provide protection for each citizen and their property and, offer heartfelt appreciation for the servanthood of each one,” Newsom read from a framed proclamation, presented to the VFD members at Monday’s meeting.