State lawmakers have allocated about $20 million in annual, additional funding for Texas Forest Service, allowing the agency to beef up volunteer fire departments’ capacity, as well as its own.
That includes $9 million per year for Texas Wildfire Protection Plan, a five-part approach to disaster response that focuses on predictive services, prevention and mitigation, planning and preparedness, local capacity building and rapid response.
Legislators also boosted the budget by another $10 million per year for the rural volunteer fire department assistance grant program. The new money combined with existing funds will allow the agency to devote about $25 million annually to the program.
TFS interim Director Tom Boggus praised the Rural Fire Advisory Council, the State Firemen’s & Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas and the Texas Forestry Association for their support during the session. He also applauded the efforts of HB 4002 author State Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas and Senate sponsor Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock.
During the 81st legislative session, lawmakers also: