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County VFDs fight multiple blazes, receive donations

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Georgia-Pacific invests $16,000 in local firefighters

FireFighter 200pxGeorgia-Pacific is hoping to give some relief to area firefighters as they continue to battle an active fire season in Texas. The extreme hot weather has resulted in fire departments seeing a significant spike in brush fires — and with limited resources — most volunteer fire departments are feeling the heat when it comes to keeping operations running smoothly during one of the driest seasons in the state’s history.

“Georgia-Pacific understands the vital role volunteer firefighters have in East Texas communities,” said Yana Ogletree, Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Manager. “For many years Georgia-Pacific has invested in area volunteer fire departments, whether it is helping to purchase new tankers and life-saving equipment or funding training and operations.” 

Polk County volunteer fire departments have busied themselves fighting blazes caused by lightning strikes and individuals burning illegally during a county ban. Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said all departments have trekked north to battle fires in Corrigan and Camden over the past 10 days. Many have been in wooded areas and difficult to locate, according to Cochran. The department recently purchased a drone that has aided in that process.

‘Lightning strikes are causing it,” Cochran said. “We may get a little shower, but it is so dry. Then, we’ll get a call or two for an illegal burn. The burn ban is in effect until the county lifts the ban. All they have to do is make a phone call. (If they burn during a ban), it is going to be a fine, and maybe a trip to jail.”

Recently, the local building products company donated $16,000 to volunteer fire departments in Corrigan, Livingston, and Onalaska. 

Receiving $10,000 from Georgia-Pacific, The Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department will use the money to upgrade their trucks. 

“These funds come at a time when we have been inundated with brush fires,” Corrigan Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy McDonald said. “With limited equipment, high fuel costs, and outfitting firefighters with the appropriate equipment, we can use all of the donations we can get.” 

Despite the financial challenges small volunteer fire departments face on a regular basis, Corrigan is planning for the future and is raising funds for a new facility. According to McDonald, the department has secured land which will eventually be home to a new fire department.

Georgia-Pacific is also donating $5,000 to the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department. With a 37-member force, Livingston firefighters cover not only the city of Livingston, but approximately 250 square miles of Polk County. 

“We actively work more than 500 calls each year while also providing backup to the other ten departments located within the county,” said John Haynes, Livingston Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief. “Georgia-Pacific’s contribution is significant and greatly appreciated. The funds will help us obtain more rescue equipment and they will provide additional capital to purchase a new pumper unit.” Haynes says the new pumper truck, which will be used to take the pressure off an aging fleet, is scheduled to arrive in the fall.

Serving the Lake Livingston area, the Onalaska Fire Department is receiving a $1,000 donation from Georgia-Pacific to purchase equipment and training. 

“Georgia-Pacific is a continuous supporter of local volunteer fire departments in Polk, Angelina, and Sabine counties. Georgia-Pacific is proud to partner with local firefighters who dedicate their lives to keeping our families, homes, and property safe. Thanks to their bravery and tireless efforts, we can all rest easier knowing help is only a phone call away,” said Ogletree. 

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