Atascosa County firefighters ‘overwhelmed’ by high call volume and limited resources

ATASCOSA COUNTY, Texas – Record-breaking drought and heat are affecting call volume and budgets for Atascosa County Fire Departments this year.

The Poteet Volunteer Fire Department is one of many departments experiencing an exceptionally high call volume compared to previous years.

“It’s been overwhelming lately,” volunteer firefighter Poteet Donovan Garcia said.

The total number of calls Poteet firefighters responded to last year was 129. So far this year, it has responded to 331.

“That’s more than we’ve seen in the year, period. And we’re only about halfway through the year right now,” Garcia said.

The calls consist of house fires, medical interventions and mainly grass fires. Atascosa executives issued a disaster declaration for wildfire risk in March.

“The temperature, the drought, the lack of rainfall — things could get hectic in minutes,” Garcia said.

The Poteet firefighters are not alone. The majority of the county is experiencing high call volume and limited budgets, according to the Atascosa County Fire Marshal’s Office.

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The commissioners set their budget based on the number of calls last year, which does not take into account the high volume of calls, the replacement of broken equipment and the rising cost of gas.

“Everyone feels it. Every county fire department, outside of our county, outside of our state is feeling it,” Poteet Deputy Fire Chief Rick Flores said.

Fire departments do not expect to receive more funding from the county this year. For now, many departments rely on donations generated from boot discs and plate sales.


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