Fire departments losing fire fighters to oil field jobs

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
Many are leaving for better-paying jobs in the Eagle Ford Shale.

The city is now trying to recruit more firefighters.

SAN ANTONIO, TX (WOAI) - Fire departments in South Texas are struggling to keep enough volunteers to safely fight fires.

Many are leaving for better-paying jobs in the Eagle Ford Shale, but one city is offering an incentive to keep firefighters at home. Ten years ago, Pleasanton Fire Department had 50 volunteers, but now with only 15 active members, it's tough to sometimes get four or five people to show up for a call.

Signs of the booming oil fields are everywhere you look in Pleasanton. Thousands of more trucks are coming through, and brand new hotels are popping up along the highway, but Chief Garris sees more people and buildings that need fire protection. He's the only paid firefighter in the department, and many of his fellow firefighters have left for jobs in the oil fields.

Four other firefighters responded to a grass fire call Thursday afternoon, but sometimes they don't have enough people and have to rely on neighboring cities for help.

The city is now trying to recruit more firefighters, by paying for the training for six volunteers or city workers to become state-certified firefighters. City employees would get a $3,000 raise, but they have to agree to stay and work here for two years.

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