Bluebonnet, LCRA award $15,654 grant to Washington Fire Department
Washington Volunteer Fire Department can soon will purchase new personal protective equipment thanks to a $15,654 grant from Bluebonnet and the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and LCRA representatives present a $15,654 grant to the Washington Volunteer Fire Department for new personal protective equipment. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: John Durrenberger, Washington County judge; Kyle Merten, Bluebonnet community and development services representative, Brenham-area; Robert Mikeska, Bluebonnet Board Secretary/Treasurer; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA board member; Clyde Miller, fire chief; Billy Ray Jensen, firefighter; Eric Dehmer, firefighter; Kate Ramzinski, LCRA regional affairs representative; and Bill Kennedy, firefighter.

The Washington Volunteer Fire Department soon will purchase new personal protective equipment thanks to a $15,654 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $3,914 in matching funds from the department, will provide eight new sets of protective gear.
Washington VFD firefighters are using personal protective equipment that’s almost 13 years old, but best practices call for gear to be replaced every 10 years.

“It’s getting in bad shape,” Fire Chief Clyde Miller said. “Some of the sets have been worn quite a bit more than the other ones. The threads are getting worn, the pants are in poor condition and it’s way past time to replace them.”
The current gear has become inadequate to protect firefighters.

“Our equipment isn’t certified anymore,” Miller said. “We’ve been using it because it’s all we got. If we have good equipment to protect our people, we wouldn’t have to worry about them being hurt or in danger because they don’t have qualified gear.”

The grant will enable the department to replace the firefighting gear worn during house fires and add wildland gear to use when fighting grass and wildland fires. Miller said the need for new, modern equipment is urgent.
“When we have a fire in the summer like we had with 100-degree weather, you’re looking at temperatures of sometimes 140 degrees,” Miller said. “You have to really watch that the firefighters don’t get overheated. This new gear is much lighter and keeps the heat from coming in and transferring to the firefighter.”

Washington VFD serves the Washington community and offers mutual aid to the remainder of Washington County, as well as Brazos and Grimes counties.

The community grant is one of four grants being awarded by Bluebonnet and the LCRA through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available here