LCRA, Bluebonnet Co-op award $30,000 grant for rescue tools, firefighting gear

AUSTIN COUNTY, Texas – A $30,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative will help the Industry Volunteer Fire Department purchase two much-needed pieces of equipment: new and improved hydraulic rescue tools to extract crash victims from vehicles and new protective gear for firefighters.

The grant will be paired with matching funds of $12,874 from the Industry VFD, which serves approximately 2,000 people in northwest Austin County. The department’s 54.5-square-mile service area includes Industry, a farming community situated about halfway between Austin and Houston.

Michael Drab, vice president of the Industry VFD board, said the department has been using an old set of extraction tools that sometimes aren’t effective on the stronger materials used in newer cars and trucks. On occasion, Industry VFD first responders have had to request aid at crash scenes from other departments, he said.

“With these new tools, we’ll be able to extract someone from a vehicle more safely and more quickly,” Drab said. “We’re very grateful to receive this grant from LCRA and Bluebonnet. At the end of the day, it’s going to help us to better serve the community.”

The two additional self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) will supply oxygen, filter out carbon dioxide and keep firefighters from inhaling noxious fumes during emergencies, he said.

“We don’t want to be putting firefighters’ health at risk,” Drab said. “By adding additional SCBAs, we can protect more firefighters when we’re at scenes and allow them to be better equipped for rescue and fire suppression duties.”

The community grant is one of 28 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s wholesale 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 will be accepted July 1-31. More information is available at

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