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Grant enables VFD to purchase new fill station

November 23, 2022 - 00:00
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    Courtesy Photo LCRA and BEC representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Medina Lake Volunteer Fire Department for a new fill station and compressor. Pictured from left: Kate Ramzinski, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Ben Hicks, fire chief; Greg S

A $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bandera Electric Cooperative will enable the Medina Lake Volunteer Fire Department to quickly refill critical breathing equipment after emergency calls to keep the gear ready and available for use.

With the Community Development Partnership Program grant and $19,495 in matching funds from the department, Medina Lake VFD will purchase and install a fill station and compressor for the air tanks used with self-contained breathing units firefighters depend on during emergency calls.

The department currently relies on neighboring departments to refill its equipment, which can sometime take days. The new fill station and compressor will allow the department to refill air tanks immediately, which will prevent the equipment from being unavailable for long stretches of time.

“Tanks on the breathing units need to be refilled at the earliest possible time to be ready for the next call,” Fire Chief Ben Hicks said. “We currently have to coordinate with neighboring departments to fill our tanks, which is time consuming for us and them. It also limits our air use for training our own firefighters.”

Hicks said the new fill station means the department will be able to conduct more realistic training using breathing gear, increasing the department’s preparedness and rescue efforts. The department also will be able to refill dive bottles used during water rescues on-site.

Medina Lake VFD serves a growing population in Lakehills and the surrounding communities of Pipe Creek, Mico, Lakeshore and Bandera.

Hicks said the equipment will be available to neighboring communities that do not have fill stations.

“This equipment puts us in a full state of readiness, which is huge for our growing community,” he said.

The community grant is one of 46 grants awarded recently 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. Bandera 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 at lcra. org/cdpp.