The citizens of Karnes County should be very proud of the volunteers working for the local fire departments.
The recent lightning strikes and subsequent fires tested these first responders and I think they fared well.
They responded to multiple fires and high water rescues which unfortunately occurred simultaneously and were spread throughout the entire county.
Television coverage relayed the need for specialized training to fight oil related incidents. People may not be aware that many of our firefighters have attended training offered at the fire school in College Station and continue to work to be prepared.
They give up vacation time and free time to serve.
Unfortunately the rapid growth in the county caused by the developing oil industry has presented the fire departments with additional challenges.
First of all, the number of volunteers has not increased. In fact there are fewer people to fight more fires than there have been in the past. It is difficult for local citizens to keep up without the help of new volunteers.
While bigger cities have professional firemen to always be available, small communities rely totally on volunteers, people willing to give back to the community where they live.
Many of those who work in the oil industry are not residents of the county and don’t really consider themselves to be members of the local communities.
They feel no civic responsibility, and yet they must have some expectation that the fire departments will respond if called.
The second challenge our fire departments face is that they are working with local budgets that have not kept up with the growing demands of the county.
While the equipment and funds available have been adequate historically, times and conditions have changed.
Major fires including those requiring special equipment are happening more frequently.
Our firefighters need to the resources to combat these threats.
Karnes County has a great deal to be proud of in regards to our fire departments.
Members of these organizations are willing to work for their communities and serve unselfishly. It is our responsibility to support them.
We need to step up and be willing to do our part to keep our county safe and our fire departments viable.
They need volunteers and financial support from the local governments. T
hey need volunteers and financial support from new businesses and their employees coming into the area. And last but certainly not least, all local fire departments need volunteers and financial support from citizens who are blessed to be from Karnes County.