Aug. 12, 2013 — BAYTOWN, Texas — Old River-Winfree Volunteer Fire Chief Andy Maloy knows all too well
the dangers that come along with fighting fires in tall buildings.
to afford a ladder truck, his dedicated volunteer firefighters were forced to
charge in on the ground floor, using stairways and ladders and tunneling
techniques to try and effectively battle each blaze.
changed last month when the department received a 100-foot ladder truck donated
by ExxonMobil and provided through the Texas A&M Forest Service Helping
“Without the right vehicle, it’s very difficult to actually
fight fires,” Maloy said, describing the danger his firefighters faced with
each fire in a multistory building. “This truck drastically increases our
Created by the 75th Texas Legislature, Helping
Hands matches donated firefighting equipment with volunteer departments in
need. As part of the program, donors are relieved of any liability associated with
the donated equipment.
Helping Hands Coordinator Jim Dunn said the program provides
often-struggling volunteer fire departments with important, life-saving items —
protective gear, emergency vehicles, tools and rescue equipment — to which they
previously wouldn’t have had access.
“By partnering with companies, individuals and other fire
departments, we’re able to provide these volunteer departments with a safe
means of fighting fires,” Dunn said.
Since its inception in 1997, the program has received and distributed
more than $18.5 million in donated equipment, including 265 vehicles and 5,184
Maloy said he was
“ecstatic” upon finding out his department would be receiving the truck from
The donation, the chief said, allows his department to fight
fires — safely and effectively — in a wider variety of buildings, particularly
the multi-story buildings that recently have been constructed in the area. The
truck also helps them aid other volunteer departments in the area.
“We are one of nine other volunteer departments in the area
and this donation is a huge help to us all,” Maloy said. “When one department
has a low ability to respond, we’re now able to actually step up and help.”
For more information about the Helping Hands program and how
to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Helping Hands
Editor’s Note: Helping Hands
needs SCBA air cylinders and breathing masks to help keep up with the demand
from volunteer fire departments across the state.
Jim Dunn, Helping Hands Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service
Texas A&M Forest Service Communications