Garrett firefighters welcomed a new member of the department on Tuesday, as they took possession of a new brush truck. The purchase was made possible by a Texas Forest Service grant.

Garrett Fire Chief Eddie Miner stated the $100,000 grant expands the department’s capability to serve residents. Grant funds went toward the purchase of a new Ford F-550 brush truck. The vehicle is anticipated to go into service in October.

“We applied for the grant a year and a half ago. It really helps the small departments get the equipment they need in at a fraction of the cost,” Miner said. “The truck gives us more ways to respond to calls than before.”

According to the Texas Forest Service website, the Texas Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program provides funding to rural volunteer fire departments for the acquisition of firefighting vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, protective clothing, dry-hydrants, computer systems, and training. The program is allotted $17.3 million to fund these requests each year.

Miner stated the vehicle replaced a 1999 Ford that was built and retrofitted by the department to be used on fire calls. The new truck was built from the ground up to go on emergency calls in Alvarado.

The vehicle will be used in a dual purpose role and safety for the crew kept at the forefront of its design.

“We will be able to respond to both grass fires, and it will also serve as a rescue truck for EMS calls. This will lessen the wear and tear on the larger apparatus,” Miner said. “It has a cage feature that fully encloses and protects firefighters as they work with a hose line on the truck as it is moving. It will enhance their safety.”

Miner stated the department answers between 50-60 grass fire calls each year. Firefighters respond to a total of 150 calls yearly.

The Texas Forrest Service funded 90 percent, and Garrett funded the remaining 10 percent of the grant. To qualify for the grant a department has to be recognized, non-profit volunteer fire department operated by its members. Any part-paid or part-volunteer fire departments with 20 or fewer paid members are eligible as well. Vehicles acquired through this program have to be maintained in firefighting service for 10 years.

Miner stated department members David Mach and Randy Thomas were instrumental in securing the grant. He added the department is excited to receive this updated piece of equipment, which helps them continue their mission of service.