Gas prices hit record high, emergency responders affected

By: Mystic Matthews Email
By: Mystic Matthews Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX - Several fire crews drove miles to help put out those grassfires in Ratliff City, burning dozens of gallons of expensive gasoline just to get there.

The national average for self-serve gas has hit another record high. Fuel is nearly $3.25 a gallon, with diesel topping $3.66 a gallon.

AAA says the latest spike does not appear to be driven by supply and demand. Instead experts blame the unprecedented price of crude oil.

It's a price jump that's not just hurting travelers, it's taking a toll on emergency responders.

Mystic Matthews joins us to tell us how that could affect you.

Local fire and police departments say they can't stop making runs just because the price of gas goes up. Lives depend on how quickly they respond, so they have to find ways to absorb the cost and that means taking money from other parts of their budgets.

We count on them to respond in an emergency, but with fuel at an all time high, many firefighters, EMS and police say it's getting expensive to make those runs.

Grayson County Association of Fire Chiefs President Allen Vols says, “These big trucks get 3-6 miles a gallon. We're running at pump speeds, which is high idol. So we burn quite a bit of fuel on a fire. "

But Vols says local communities don't need to worry. Service won't suffer because they will make sure they always have gas.

“There's no end in sight and we just have to go. We can't pinch pennies on fuel, we have to have the fuel,” says Vols.

Jona Lunde, a Preston volunteer firefighter, says many local volunteer departments are being forced to cut other equipment out of their budgets to pay for gas. "If we run out of fuel in the budget, it comes out of a different budget. As firefighters, we're looking at not being able to purchase equipment, like bunker gear, or personal protective gear. So it can have an impact.”

Even paid departments like Sherman fire are feeling the jolt of crude oil prices. But the difference, according to city officials, is that they can buy in bulk for city vehicles, saving much needed money.

Sherman Director of Public Works Jeff Miller says, “There are certain services, like police and fire and we just have to do that. We just take into account when budgeting and planning for operations that there are certain things we have to do."

Most area fire departments are in the beginning of their fiscal spending year, so budgets aren't depleted yet. But if the grass fires pick up when it gets hot, firefighters like Lunde say VFD’s will feel the burn.

“If the incidents are little lower and we don't have to roll as often, of course be able to stretch it a little farther. So far we've done pretty good in this community."

Departments like Preston say they continue to watch the price of fuel and will make adjustments accordingly so that service doesn't suffer.

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