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Bluebonnet, LCRA award $50,000 grant for new regional fire training center

0510
 2021


Pictured, from left to right, are: Joyce Buckner, Bluebonnet community representative; Danney Rodgers, CCFCA vice president; Lori A. Berger, LCRA board member; Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager; Jerry Doyle, CCFCA member; Edward Hanna, CCFCA president; Linda Haden, CCFCA fundraising organizer; Milton Shaw, Bluebonnet Board member; Hoppy Haden, Caldwell County judge; Hector Rangel, Caldwell County emergency management coordinator; and Hank Alex, Caldwell County assistant emergency management coordinator.

With the support of a $50,000 grant from Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and the Lower Colorado River Authority, 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.

“To make the construction of a training facility like this possible is of great importance to us,” said Matt Bentke, General Manager and CEO of Bluebonnet. “Providing a place for multiple fire departments to work and learn together makes the area’s communities safer and stronger. We are proud to partner with the Caldwell County Fire Chiefs Association on this important project. Safety is a top priority for Bluebonnet – one of our core values – so supporting those who help our region stay safe is very rewarding.”
 
“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.”
 
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, Haden said.
 
“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 seven 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 July. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.

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