ELM MOTT, Texas (KWTX) The Elm Mott Volunteer Fire Department is asking the community for two things: money and manpower.
(Photo by Rhyan Henson)
The department is in the middle of building a new, much needed, fire station.
But even with donated supplies and builders, the department still needs $35,000 to complete the project and is still looking for donations of both material and labor.
The department is a nonprofit, which means donations are tax deductible.
That’s just one example of the financial struggles the department faces.
It only gets $6,000 a year from the county, which means the department’s leadership must bridge the gap through grants, which can take as long as a year and a half to receive.
The department also relies on fundraisers, which are unreliable sources of income.
Annual expenses for a small fire department average around $1 million a year, according to the department.
“The economy hasn't been great for anybody, so when that happens they cut back somewhere,” Elm Mott firefighter Casey Perry said.
“Where is the first place they will cut back? Their private donations. That leaves us out here trying to survive and trying to adapt to the changes in our area,” he said.
The department is raising money by collecting cans and aluminum that will be recycled.
Recently someone stole the large bins in which cans were being collected, which set the department back thousands of dollars.
The department is asking those who donate cans and aluminum to put bag the donations.
Those interested in donating may call (254) 829-0543 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elm Mott firefighters have to wear many hats.
They respond to EMS calls, put out grassfires and clearing accidents along Interstate 35.
The department has 15 active firefighters, Perry said.
Because the firefighters are volunteers, all of them have second jobs that pay their bills.
That means when emergencies happen, only two or three firefighters may respond making handling emergencies extremely difficult.
“A lot of them are taking off of their jobs and leaving their families behind to go serve the community, Perry said.
“With that comes the staffing issue. We're not always guaranteed that we will have someone who is able to respond or an adequate number of people to respond.”
The problems aren’t unique to Elm Mott.
Volunteer fire departments across Central Texas face the same struggles.