West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department Struggling With Gas Costs

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The last few months have been especially hard for area firefighters. This fire season is really taking a toll on a local departments' pocketbooks and now they're going to the county for help.

The West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department is feeling the pain at the gas pump. This month, they went way over budget on fuel costs.

On Monday, Chief Jimmy Ellis told the Ector County Commissioners they won't be able to run as normal if gas costs get in the way.

More grassfires means more money spent on gas just to get there and put those fires out, but now it's affecting the budget of the West Odessa Volunteers.

"I'm over 100 runs from this time last year," Chief Ellis said. "I had 200 and some odd runs and I'm over 300 now and without any rain, it's not going to go away. It's going to pick up."

Chief Ellis said that's just in Ector County alone. His station gets $3,200 a month from the County.

"It goes for all my bills, all my maintenance, all my truck repairs, fuels everything," Chief Ellis said.

But the last check was spent on one thing. Gas. Fuel costs for the department this month totaled more than $4,800.

Chief Ellis said they've even had to scale back the number of EMS calls they assist on because of it so he went to the Ector County Commissioners for help.

Chief Ellis told them on top of the calls they respond to in Ector County, they also assist surrounding counties.

"We go help them whenever they call," he said. "We do what we can to help each other out. We're all we have."

"My concerns as far as fuel costs was, is that money that's being spent going to the benefit of Ector County citizens?" County Judge Susan Redford, said. "Jimmy Ellis was able to answer that the majority of his runs are in Ector County."

Judge Redford and commissioners agreed to pay the extra $1,600 the department spent.

"I saw today as a one time emergency issue especially with fourth of July coming up," Redford said. "I was satisfied with the decision we made. I felt like we had to do what we had to do."

For the time being, that's good news for Chief Ellis.

"It means I get some money to operate on and hopefully we get some rain," he said.

Chief Ellis and Judge Redford are both hoping the new bans will be helpful in reducing the amount of fires in the area.

The county has a tight budget of their own so if this happens again, Judge Redford said the commissioners will have to go back and see what they can do to resolve the issue.