Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT) and its Trusted Choice agents have donated a total of $200,000 to the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA) to assist volunteer fire departments.
The entire donation will go to a special fund created to purchase fire retardant clothing for volunteer firefighters who battle the numerous wildfires across the state. An original $100,000 donation in May on behalf of Texas Trusted Choice independent insurance agents was recently doubled in response to unmet needs for protective gear.
The lightweight, fire retardant, protective suits are provided by the Texas Forest Service, but many departments can’t afford them. It costs approximately $8,400 to completely outfit one firefighter.
‘Now more than ever, our Texas firefighters deserve the best protection available,’ said IIAT’s Executive Director David VanDelinder. ‘While the contribution is helpful, more is still needed to fulfill the requests for these lightweight suits.’
More than 20,900 wildfires have raged across Texas since Nov. 2010 — the largest number in the state’s history according to SFFMA — and more than 3.6 million acres have been destroyed. Seventy to 80 percent of the state’s fire service is covered by volunteer fire departments. According to SFFMA, 86 percent of volunteer firefighters use their personal funds to meet the day-to-day equipment and supply needs of their fire departments.
‘The timing of such a great donation is perfect as we continue to see numerous volunteer fire departments fighting wild fires like the recent ones in Central Texas. IIAT’s donation will help many volunteer firefighters get much-needed equipment,’ said Chris Barron, SFFMA’s executive director.