Peñitas fire department, truck unveiled

The City of Penitas ratified its new volunteer fire department and unveiled a new fire truck as city officials and volunteers gathered at the city library to celebrate the town’s milestone on April 5.

The new fire department already has 20 confirmed volunteers, which includes Mayor Rigo Lopez, Commissioner Armin Garza and Building Official Jose Gonzales. More applicants are in the screening process.

City of Penitas logo“The credentials of the 20 are very well balanced,” Gonzales explained. “We have beginners, advanced and master firefighters. I hold a master firefighter certificate from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.”

Although experience is not a requirement for joining as a volunteer, the police chief, fire department captain and fire department lieutenants already have several years of experience as firefighters.

Bernie Decaire will be taking over as acting interim fire chief for the new department. Decaire was a firefighter in Canada for 33 years, and held positions as a training officer, first aid and CPR instructor, trainer for new recruits and three or four other positions, including fire chief.

     “I had 750 firefighters, plus the administration under me. We covered 250,000 people and nine fire stations; four of those stations were under my direct command.”

The new fire department expects to begin uniform measurements by April 12, with both standard dress and an official white dress shirt.

Conversation has begun with TriCounty about acquiring radios for the new truck, as well as for the volunteers. Because of the cost, TriCounty agreed the radios would be deferred to the next budgeting year, which beings Jan 1, 2017.

The department has also begun the process of moving forward with its 501(c) application, which will allow the department to apply for grants from state and federal institutions. A delay of 60-90 days is expected before the grant comes through.

     “I wish the city of Peñitas well in its future endeavors,” Gonzales said. “It’s a long journey and vision, but with the purchase of this fire truck it has become a short journey, and a doable journey, now. We want to be here in fifty years, a hundred years.”

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