Majority of Cumby residents agree to pay for new fire truck
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dec. 11, 2006 - It’s not often that more than 90 percent of a community agree on anything, and especially not rate increases for utilities or city services.

In Cumby, however, 94.1 percent of the about 440 residents benefiting from city water services agreed that public safety comes first in their town, marking the second time in about 20 years that a large portion of the population approved such a measure.

In the 1980’s, members of Cumby Volunteer Fire Department went door-to-door, gaining support one city utility customer at a time, for a new fire truck, according to CVFD Assistant Chief David Weatherbee.

Earlier this year, members of the department again initiated a door knocking campaign for a new, much-needed engine. Overall, 94.1 percent of the water customers agreed not only to a $3 a month addition to their water bills to help fund the new truck, but also to pay the rate increase indefinitely until the note is paid off.

�The citizens of this town are the best we could have. They are really great supporters. Their approval shows their trust in us,� said CVFD firefighter Jeff Strickland.

The fire department’s survey and proposal were then taken to the three-member city council consisting of Mayor Travis Baxley, and council members LaVerne Battles and Leon Higginbotham, who not only approved the proposal for a new truck, but also agreed to contribute a portion of the city sales tax revenues if the extra funding is needed to cover the debt payment.

�We hope the $3 will cover the payment, but if not, we�ll use some of the retail sales tax money to make up the rest. We can also use retail sales tax payment from the state to help with insurance and things like that,� Battles said.

�This is a joint effort of our community. Everybody has contributed, the entire community,� Weatherbee said.

The 2006 model Pierce Contender when ordered cost between $14,000 and $15,000. The Class A engine has seating for 5 personnel, a 1,000 gallon tank, 1,250 gallons per minute pump and four jump seats which allow four firefighters riding in the truck to merely pull on their self contained breathing apparatus while seated. So far the department has installed $5,000 worth equipment on the truck, including 1,400 feet of hose lines and the rescue tools which they received in recent years thanks to a 90/10 percent match grant from the Texas Forest Service, according to CVFD Chief Jimmy Evans.

The department is still in the process of outfitting the truck, and the new equipment is expected to cost another $10,000, which is where the sales tax revenues, as well as donations such as those raised from the annual fish fry, will be needed. The truck will have specialized lights night scene lights which can be raised, natural gas detectors, axes and thermal imaging capabilities equipment. The engine will be used primarily for structure fires or motor vehicle accidents.

The department is strictly volunteer, with 15 individuals who have between two and 30 years experience donating their time with the department and have all completed the National Incident Management System training.

This year CVRD is expected to log 350 calls this year. Their coverage area spans 92 miles, including the city of Cumby, westward into Hunt County and each through Brashear and Ridgeway to the city limits of Sulphur Springs. They also make a number of mutual aid calls with Campbell. Between 80 and 90 percent of their calls are as first responders with emergency medical services personnel and the remainder on vehicle rescue and grass/structure fires.

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