Firefighters Preparing for Independence Day Celebrations

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - America's birthday is on Wednesday, meaning people all across the Basin will be celebrating with a bang.

But with conditions still very dry, firefighters are gearing up for a busy night.

It may have been a relatively quiet weekend for grass fires here in the basin, but firefighters aren't holding their breaths.

"We've had some Fourth of July's where we've run as many as 120 runs a night," West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis said. "It's been a little while since we've done that but it's entirely possible that it can happen again."

Ellis and his crew are getting ready for what could be a long night.

This year, there are no burn bans in Ector or Midland county, and fireworks are flying off shelves.

And that has crews hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

"Right now we've got a little bit of humidity," Ellis said. "Everything is looking pretty good but if the wind keeps up, winds will dry out enough and if the humidity drops down, we could have a very,very busy night."

Since last week, the volunteers have been servicing their vehicles and making sure they're trucks are ready to go.

Chief Ellis said the holiday could be used as a learning experience for his guys.

"I'd like to see us have a few runs, I have a few rookies who don't know what a busy night is," he said.

The Midland Fire Dept. has been getting ready for the Fourth for a while now.

Crews will be out at the downtown celebration and the Rockhounds stadium display.

"We'll bring extra staffing on board with us during this time period in case we have a large amount of incidents at this time," Asst. Fire Marshal David Hickman.

Hickman said to be mindful if you're popping your own fireworks in the county.

"You're dealing with an explosive," Hickman said. "When they get into the hands of the public then it's up to them to use common sense and precautions."

And if you're thinking of making your own display inside city limits, think again.

"As soon as you buy fireworks in the city, you're in violation of the law," Hickman said. "We're gonna get your fireworks and you're gonna get a ticket."

And as always, both are reminding you to play it safe.

"Have fire protection measures on hand, water buckets of water, fire extinguishers," Hickman said.

"The public has as much responsibility as we do," Chief Ellis said.