by Victor Lopez
WEST ODESSA - If there's one thing Fire Chief Jimmy Ellis is passionate about, it's his crew and his equipment.
So when the possibility came up that Commissioners might not approve the purchase of a new truck, it hit a little close to home.
"They're going to do what they think is best for the County. I'm going to do what I think is best for my firefighters and my fire department," Ellis said.
Some tense moments in Ector County Commissioners Court Monday morning, when Judge Susan Redford said straight out, there was no money in the budget for a new fire truck. But budget or not, Ellis stands firm in the need for newer, more reliable equipment.
"This is the worst fire season we've had that I can ever remember and without the vehicles or equipment to do it, there's not a grassfire or pasture or any fence, worth injuring my firefighters over. I'm not going to get my people hurt, because of tired equipment," Ellis added.
After some lengthy discussion, Commissioners voted in favor of the purchase of a 2003, Ford F-450, with $18,500 from the county's general fund.
Even with a potential disaster declaration pending from Governor Rick Perry, which will ban the sale and use of all fireworks, Ellis says they need all the help they can get.
"That's a fireman's dream, to restrict all fireworks. Without a restriction, we're going to burn our County up. We've been under a burn ban for 6 months and there is still people burning. Writing tickets for it is great but they're still going to shoot the fireworks. If they let them sell it, they're going to shoot them where ever they want to," Ellis said.
The two new trucks, will be a big help, for crews who are working near exhaustion already. But Ellis adds, it's not just his department that's suffering.
"It's every volunteer fire department in West Texas. Midland, Andrews, Crane, everybody, Monahans, Kermit, everybody is running their wheels off," Ellis said.
Ellis says that both new trucks are pretty much ready to get started fighting fires. They just need to make a few final adjustments here and there. And with the 4th of July holiday just weeks away, ellis says that can't happen soon enough.