Firefighters Hurting for Funds to Buy Safer Gear

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- Texas is still recovering from last year's devastating wildfires, yet fire season is already well underway and state agencies are looking ahead to how they can make sure no more firefighters are injured or killed while protecting us.

Chief Robert Isbell with the Midland Fire Department says, "This year, we know much more about wildfire fighting than we did last year. We're raising the bar on our expectations to respond to these scenes."

Since last year, the state has implemented new safety standards for firefighters. Midland was given grant money to upgrade on wildfire equipment.

MFD Captain, Allan Moore, says, "We've never had training on forest fire types of situations and now we finally have it."

However, there are dozens of volunteer fire departments throughout the Basin that need help preparing for wildfires.

"Some departments struggle just to get gas in the gas tanks to respond to fires, let alone have the proper gear and training equipment to go along with those responders to ensure their safety," Isbell said.

Isbell is trying to change that, through his own non-profit called the "Permian Basin Firemen's Fund." It is unaffiliated with the city of Midland.

"If we can prevent a firefighter accident or fatality through this program, that's our goal," Isbell said.

He's working to get all the volunteer departments the wildfire training and equipment they need, like emergency shelters, special hoses and better apparel that's built for wildland environments.

The Permian Basin Firemen's Fund is in need donations to assist firefighters with the proper wildfire gear and training. Donations can be dropped of at the Midland Fire Department Headquarters at 1500 West Wall Street in Midland or mailed to the Permian Basin Firemen's Fund at P.O. Box 952, Midland, TX, 79702-0952.