Fire Districts Replacing Fish Fries for VFD's

Dave Crawford is a former athlete who now knows firefighting apparatus as well as sports teams. The assistant chief for the Appleby Volunteer fire department also knows how to raise the money to purchase the expensive equipment. Before coming to East Texas Crawford lived and worked in west Houston.   He was wanting to stay fit. Of all places, he found a way at a volunteer fire department. There he learned about VFD's constant funding issues. Crawford said, " It's a tough thing. The volunteer fire departments in the United States make up 79% of all fire departments. Well, they're all having the same issues."

Crawford transferred to Appleby in Nacogdoches County. He brought with him knowledge of establishing fire districts. He's organizing two elections in Nacogdoches County and one for Fuller Springs in Angelina County.

Crawford is well aware of the potential revenue. " We have the funding to go out and put some people out during the day, increase our equipment, better our responses, better our ems response because that's what it's all about." The funding comes from a 3% property tax on every $100 valuation. If voters approve the volunteers are held accountable for every penny. Nacogdoches county judge Joe English explained, " They have to keep financial statements and those have to be turned in to our county auditor and those have to be audited by the county and so they're called subdivision requirements they have to abide by."

The fire district is widely used in some areas of the state, but few exist in East Texas. Crawford wants to spread the word of the financial support that's quite more reliable than a fish fry.   Crawford said,  " If people are willing to pay us only then we want to provide the service."

Public hearings were held Monday for the Nacogdoches County fire districts. There was no opposition. Commissioners are expected to approve a May 12 election next week. Eligible voters will be residents served by the Appleby Volunteer Fire Department and the Lake Nacogdoches Fire Department. Fuller Springs is circulating a petition to call for an election.