West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department Trying to Outlast Fire Season

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - With one of the worst fire season's on record, West Texas fire departments are being spread thin.

Chief Jimmy Ellis of the West Odessa Volunteers tells NewsWest 9, this season is one of the worst he's ever experienced, but they just don't have the manpower or sometimes even the equipment to keep up.

On Tuesday, they were called out to help with the fire in Iraan but the resources were low so they had to stay put.

"Everybody's running everything that they've got and they're all running ragged," Chief Ellis said. "You know, with volunteers we work with what we've got."

For Chief Ellis and his crew, that's not always enough.

The department is down a brush truck after tackling so many fires and their back up truck doesn't compare.

"It's an '80s model military two and half ton, it's got no power steering, its standard transmission, it's all just a basic truck and it's hard to drive," Chief Ellis said. "Everything we've got, we're trying to keep it running just enough to get out of this fire season."

With so many blazes already this season, maintaining the tires on those trucks and tankers is another task.

"I beg borrow and steal from anywhere I can get them," Chief Ellis said. "They're old tires that they don't run on the highway, the trucking companies, I'll take them here and run them until they pop."

Chief Ellis said the fires keep igniting but he can't always send his guys to help other departments when needed.

"If I send them, I won't have anything here and I have a responsibility to the citizens of Ector County to cover our area and take care of our people," he said.

His crew did help out in Midland County this past weekend. Only a small group of firefighters could go, and that's something Chief Ellis wishes he could change when it comes to fighting out of control grassfires.

"My heart goes out to the guys in Midland," he said. "They were working hard for a long time and the guys down south, word cannot describe. Everybody around us has had them. We haven't had ours yet but it's coming and I hope to God it doesn't."

Chief Ellis said they're in the process of getting a new brush truck. They were able to gather up enough donation money to buy it.