Creative fundraiser could help volunteer fire depts. bounce back - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Creative fundraiser could help volunteer fire depts. bounce back from wildfire season

Central Fire Chief Dennis Cochran is used to working on a tight budget. Volunteer fire departments are funded largely by donations and grants.

"We're always lacking. We live on a shoestring budget. And, we always need money," said Cochran.

Last year's wildfires wiped out many VFD's ability to replace or repair worn equipment.

"Last year was very strained on all departments with the extra wildfires and the fuel bills. And, it's just left most departments in a pretty rough state," said Hudson VFD Fire Chief Robert Smith.

"The number one thing for me, replace old trucks. Because not only can they be unsafe for the drivers, but maybe the community as we drive to the highways or to the fires," said Cochran.

If the summer brings another round of mother nature's worst, volunteers may not be able to keep up.

"It's going to put us in a strain. But, we're never going to give up. We'll always be there to provide fire protection. It's something that we've done for many years. And, we'll continue to do it. We can just do it better with more funding," said Smith.

Perry Ellis Kia wants to give fire departments a head start on raising money this weekend.

"For everything they did during the drought, I for sure think we made the right choice of who we wanted to contribute to," said Perry Ellis Kia co-owner, Shad Ellis.

100 dollars of each car purchase, through March, will go to the VFD in the buyer's home town.

"I'm sure they're going to need a lot more than what I'm able to give, but any thing we can do to help," said Ellis.

While chiefs are trying to raise money for the future, every little bit will help pay off last summer's mounting expenses.

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