Volunteer Fire Departments Losing Money Fast

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WEST ODESSA - Some West Texas volunteer fire departments are seeing a shortfall in funds due to the countless calls they're getting each day for both grass fires and structure fires.

West Texas is no stranger to grassfire danger.

But someone has to put them out and every run has a cost.

Lately for the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, the buck could stop at any time.

And the need for saving lives marches on.

"Nobody can afford any cuts right now," West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Jimmy Ellis, said. "We're all stretched as thin as we can just to hold on."

They responded to more than 29 fire calls in January and nearly 700 last year.

All this with little rain to help them out. Combine those runs with rising fuel and electricity costs, and their funds hit a wall.

"Any run we have we pounce on it as hard as we can," Ellis said. "With fuel prices going up, electricity prices going up for the station, everything going up, but the counties are all in a financial crisis right now. They can't afford to give us anymore money."

They get a set budget from Ector County every month, but that's not enough. January's budget was drained before the month ended.

When it comes to their vehicle repairs, they carry the cost themselves.

"Out of my pocket alone, I know I've put about $400 in it this year," Ellis said.

They also pay for the fuel that powers their rescue vehicles.

"$1000-2000/month fuel bill real easy," he continued.

Donations from the community are quickly becoming their lifeblood.

In addition to the money donations they receive, one West Odessa Company, Wheeler Drilling, also gave them a big flat-screen T.V. to be raffled for extra funds.

"Any time you hear that word 'flat-screen T.V. for raffle', people tend to really wanna get in on that," Wheeler Drilling Secretary, Kameron Wheeler, said. "Just knowing that they're right around the corner and that they can be on their way at the drop of a hat, it's pretty important just to know that they can help you out when you need them."

Every penny they get goes toward stopping the blazes in the Basin.

If you'd like to make a donation to the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, you can call them at (432) 381-3033.

You can also mail them donations at: P.O. Box 70107, Odessa, TX 79769