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CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas – With the support of a $50,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, the Caldwell County Fire Chiefs Association will construct a new fire training facility that can be used by fire departments throughout the area.
With generous support from the community, the association has raised an additional $60,000 in matching funds for the new facility, which can be used by departments in Caldwell County and neighboring counties.
“Our community understands the role of what our volunteer firefighters do,’’ said Linda Haden, who helped organize local fundraising efforts for the project. “They give 24/7. There’s no prediction and no schedule, and most don’t receive any salary. A lot of people in our outlying areas have watched these teams in action save their pastures or save their homes, and they appreciate what firefighters do and realize the impact that they have.”
The new facility will include movable walls and windows designed to withstand repeated fires. Hands-on, live-fire training provides valuable opportunities for firefighters to improve and maintain their skills in real-life fire conditions.
Without a local burn facility, Caldwell County firefighters have had to travel to places such as Kyle or College Station for training, temporarily reducing resources at their stations while they are away and increasing travel costs. Once the new facility is established, area departments can train together close to home, creating better regional coordination in emergency situations.
“The new facility offers the ability to create a county enforcement team where everybody works together,” Haden said. “It becomes more efficient and safer for our firefighters and leads to better protection for our community. Not only do they start learning to work as a unit, there is no duplication of efforts. If there is a major fire like Bastrop had, the team can come together and already know they are responsible for this or that activity.”
LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson praised the community efforts that helped create the fire training center.
“To see a community come together to support an important resource like this is something special, and I’m proud that LCRA is able to play a role in making this facility a reality,” Wilson said. “It is inspiring to work with organizations like the Caldwell County Fire Chiefs Association that are dedicated to serving others.”
He said training received at the center will benefit the entire community and will likely help save lives.
“It’s one thing to learn how to fight fires,” Wilson said. “It’s another to have the experience of fighting real fires and have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes in a controlled setting.”
Haden agreed the center will have a long-lasting impact for both firefighters and residents, with additional fundraising planned to add more training props and a community classroom in the future.
“This facility will touch a lot of different lives on a lot of different levels,” Haden said. “This grant will be a catalyst to grow something really phenomenal for this county.”
The community grant is one of 25 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. 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 July. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit lcra.org.
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of the largest electric cooperatives in Texas and has been serving its members since 1939. Bluebonnet serves more than 111,000 meters and owns and maintains 12,000 miles of power lines, located across more than 3,800 square miles within 14 Central Texas counties. Bluebonnet’s service area stretches from Travis County to Washington County, and from Milam County to Gonzales County. For more information about Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, go to bluebonnet.coop and follow the co-op on Facebook and Twitter.
LCRA: Clara Tuma
Bluebonnet: Will Holford