Laguna Vista Fire Department looks to grow, despite small budget

The Laguna Vista Fire Department is unable to receive funding from the county because it is not part of the county's emergency management district, but Chief Marcus Smith hopes to join within the next year.

The Laguna Vista Fire Department is the only department in Cameron County that is not part of the Cameron County Emergency Management District.

As a result, the department is unable to receive funding from the county. Laguna Vista Fire Department Chief Marcus Smith, who took over the job just four months ago, is looking for ways to continue to help the department grow, despite a small budget.

"The budget here is about $78,000, and that's not a lot to run a fire department," Smith said.

The department has 30 volunteer firefighters,12 of who contribute their time to serve the community on a regular basis.

"Every resident in Cameron County contributes to [the emergency management district], they contribute 10 cents of every $100 evaluation to the emergency services, said Smith. "At this time the Laguna Vista Fire Department, we get none of that--we don't get paid per call, we don't get any contributions associated with that tax that the citizens are already paying."

Cameron County Fire Marshal Juan Martinez told CBS 4 News, about 60 percent of the Cameron County Emergency Management District's service providers are volunteer based.

Martinez said, as long as the department can meet the requirements and can prove they have the appropriate training and equipment to service their area, the Cameron County Emergency Management Board will consider including a new fire department to the list.

"Somebody needs to in Cameron County look that over, check out the paperwork and find out what we need to get funding here in Laguna Vista," said 15-year-long Laguna Vista resident Carole Anndenajn.

The Cameron County Emergency Management District will not review new service providers for at least a year. Currently, there are 10 fire departments within the district.

Smith said he hopes his department will be able to be part of the district within the next year.

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