Jason Tully started a program to help raise funds for the county’s 11 VFDs who are even lower on funding than usual since many weren’t able to hold their usual fundraisers this year.
Tully encouraged the community to make donations either at his insurance business downtown or directly to the fire department. All funds donated over the last month were posted on a board for the community to see outside the insurance office.
He also encouraged a friendly competition to spur additional donations between departments, with an additional $1,000 going to the top raising department. Saltillo VFD received the bonus.
“We had a great turn out, not just to us but directly to you [the VFDs] and you reported that back to us and we tallied all of that, and we raised a little over $20,000 in that 1-month time frame,” Tully said.
Overall, Tully Thursday reported approximately $20,000 in donations were raised over the last month to help out the county’s VFDs. Some contributions were made to specific departments, and others donated toward the common good.
Tully Thursday morning handed out checks for the amounts collected through the fundraiser and expressed his personal appreciation as well as that of the community to the many volunteers who donate their time to help serve the community. He said seeing the potential impact of the fundraiser, he said likely will host another one next year.
Judge Robert Newsom and Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley also Thursday announced 49 air cylinders to help VFDs replace equipment that is out of date and in some cases to provide the life saving equipment for those lacking enough to property protect members.
Endsley explained that the county was able to use CARES Act funding to purchase the 49 SCBAs. He explained that the departments’ standard operating procedures when responding with EMS personnel requires proper personal protective equipment. If a VFD member is inside of a residence for an extended period of time, depending on the situation, wearing breathing apparatus could prove beneficial.
With a large volume of cylinders at each VFD expiring, purchasing the 49 SCBAs with a portion of the CARES Act funding allocated to Hopkins County could help ensure the volunteers have breathing apparatus available to respond. The request was submitted to and approved by Texas Department of Emergency Management
He credited Beth Wisenbaker, Hopkins County Commissioners Court and Judge Newsom as aiding in the process to see the funding allocated to benefit the community via the VFDs. Funds was available for 49 cylinders. That did not divide evenly among 11 departments. All VFDs received 4 new air cylinders. Departments that also respond to calls with engines for structural firefighting also received one additional unit.
“All 11 departments are going to be able to walk away with the cylinders today which is a great thing in Hopkins County. We appreciate everything every one of ya’ll do for us,” Endsley said.
The SCBAs were bundled and labeled for each department to collect following the presentations.
“We’re super excited. We can do our job with 2-in and 2-out. This will make firefighters safer,” said Arbala VFD Chief Brian Fairchild. “Our cylinders are out of date and with our growth, we are appreciative.”
“All of my at Miller Grove are out this month, in October. This came in the nick of time,” Miller Grove VFD Assistant Chief Ray Sparks said.
“This is really good for us,” said Sulphur Bluff Chief Chris Bassham, noting that it will be especially beneficial in replacing expired cylinders and to go on the new truck. “I’m excited. This will help us. The Commissioners did good on it.”
A Cumby VFD member noted that the donations and cylinders will benefit everyone.
“I appreciate the hard work of former Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker, the Commissioners Court, Fire Chief Andy Endsley and the judge for doing this for us. it’s invaluable what this will do for us. it means so much to us. We are thankful for it, to be able to replace out of o date equipment,” said North Hopkins-South Sulphur VFD Chief Bobby Harris.