West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department in a Bind

By Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

It's been a busy fire season and as NewsWest 9 has reported, those fires are really putting volunteer fire departments in a budget crunch. But for the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department they are in a big budget crunch.

It's more than just technical difficulties. The West Odessa fire department is dealing with continuous grassfires, high gas prices and now on top of that their main truck has broke down.

"We don't have any money right now. This is one of our main brush fire trucks and the motor has got a rod knocking in it right now, it's pretty much useless with anything were doing," West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief, Jimmy Ellis, said.

Between fuel costs going up and severe cold weather damaging their trucks, the Volunteer Fire Department has no money to repair their main truck and this has put them in a tough spot.

"Right now we are in a bind, we're having to call for help from the City of Odessa and South Ector County to come help us fight these fires because if we don't you cant get the water out there to fight them, it's not gonna do any good," Ellis said.

The price tag to repair the truck is around $7,000, so they went to the county for help. But with budget cuts taking their toll on everyone, they just didn't have enough to help.

"I talked to the judge and they all agreed they just don't have the money to help us right now. I understand it, they been real good about helping me out when they can but right now no one has the money, everyone is really tight," Ellis said.

The other trucks they have carry 300 gallons of water and their main truck carries 1,200 gallons and when fighting a fire this makes a difference. If their truck doesn't get fixed, it could be a problem for the community.

"We're hurting to get this truck back up, our biggest thing is getting there with enough water to do the job because if we don't get on them real quick, as dry as we are, it will run forever," Ellis said.

In the meantime, the Volunteer Department is using a 1970 tanker truck as a backup. The truck holds around 800 gallons of water. The only problem is, it's a slow truck, so now the only thing for this Volunteer Department is hoping for donations from the community.

"Our community is been real good about helping us in the past, that's why I'm asking the community for help right now, we're a volunteer department, everybody out here works hard, we do the best we can to protect their lives and property and that's what we are asking them to do is to help us protect their lives and property," Ellis said.

NewsWest 9 spoke to the County Judge and she said that the reason that the county can't help the Volunteer Fire Department is because they are a separate agency, and because they are not a county agency, they can't provide them additional funding. They do pay them a monthly maintenance fee to handle the jurisdiction but that's all they can do.

If you would like to assist them with any monetary donation, you can contact the Volunteer Fire Department.