Bluebonnet, LCRA award $20,000 to Martindale VFD for new hydraulic rescue tools


LCRA and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative representatives present a $20,000 grant to the Martindale Volunteer Fire Department for hydraulic extrication tools. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, front row from left to right, are: Kimberly Smith, City of Martindale mayor; Lori A. Berger, LCRA Board member; Bill Hamilton, Martindale VFD president; Joyce Buckner, Bluebonnet representative; Richard Salmon, Martindale VFD board treasurer; and Laurel Schuelke, Martindale VFD bookkeeper. Back row, from left to right: Rick Arnic, LCRA Governmental and Regional Affairs representative; Adrian Castanon, emergency medical technician; Kaleb Kelley, firefighter/EMT; Max Ruozzi, firefighter; Milton Shaw, Bluebonnet director; and Drew Schulle, firefighter.

MARTINDALE – The Martindale Volunteer Fire Department soon will have new hydraulic extrication tools to help rescue people injured or trapped during vehicle accidents, thanks to a $20,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. 

The grant, along with $6,700 in local matching funds, will equip the department with Jaws of Life tools, an important addition to serve the growing numbers of commuters that pass through the fire department’s service area daily.   

“Our call volume has gone up significantly, and it’s a lot for a volunteer department to handle,” said Bill Hamilton, Martindale VFD president. “This grant will help us be more effective at responding to auto crashes.” 

Martindale VFD serves 37 square miles in rural Caldwell County, including a large portion of Interstate 80 between Interstate 35 and state Highway 130. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates more than 400,000 vehicles travel this stretch each month, and predicts a 57 percent increase by 2035. More than 50 percent of Caldwell County residents commute to work outside of the county. 

Hamilton estimates at least one quarter of calls to the fire department involve incidents on the highway, and new Jaws of Life tools will help them rescue people more quickly.   

“We’re excited to better serve our local community and those on the highway,” said Hamilton. “We thank LCRA and Bluebonnet for this grant, and we look forward to putting it to good use.” 

The fire department provides around-the-clock assistance to Caldwell County and the City of Martindale. The crew also offers mutual aid to other agencies in Caldwell, Hays and Guadalupe counties. 

The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program. 

Applications for the next round of grants are due Jan. 31. More information is available at 

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