The Helping Hands Program allows donations of gently-used fire/rescue equipment, fire trucks and other items to be made available to fire departments throughout the state while providing liability relief to the donor.
    The program routinely receives donations in the way of structural gear, fire hoses, nozzles, rescue tools, ladders, ventilation fans and other items that are essential to the operation of a fire department. 
    Since 1997, the Helping Hands Program has received more than $40.5 million in donated equipment. Donations are vital to meeting the needs of volunteer fire departments and we are grateful to our donors for their participation in supplying equipment through this program.

    Helping Hands requests are filled by following a rating system, or by direct donation. Awarded items are delivered by appointment only.

     + Eligibility
    Chartered, non-profit VFDs operated by its members are eligible. Any part-paid, part-volunteer fire department with 20 or fewer paid members is eligible.
     + Apply

    Application for Fire Department Assistance - HELPING HANDS (TFS-FO-403) (PDF, 358KB)

    Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) - By law, SCBAs must be recertified to the manufacturer's specifications by a manufacturer authorized technician before being made available for placement. There is a certification fee that is required from each recipient. The amount of the fee may fluctuate.

    Notice: As of January 2020, fees are $105 per SCBA and $25 per bottle.

    This price only includes the basic certification fee, and does not include repairs to add-on features such as heads up displays. Texas A&M Forest Service and the Helping Hands Program is not responsible for repairs to add-on features of SCBAs.

    * Price may change without notice. Once your order is filled, payment will be requested. Please do not send checks prior to being contacted.

    To revise your application, complete the Revision Request Form and submit it via mail or fax. It is important to keep us up to date on changes relating to your department, such as changes in contact information, changes to requests, changes in population, etc. It is also important to keep us aware of the current size of your protection area. You can find guidance on how to update your protection area here

     + Donate


    Complete and submit the donation form and include the Application for Texas Certificate of Title (PDF, 656KB), if applicable. Once submitted, a Texas A&M Forest Service representative will contact you to complete the transaction. 
    Donating organizations have the opportunity to designate a specific recipient at the time of their donation. The specified recipient must claim their donation within three (3) calendar months of Helping Hands receiving the donation. If the designated recipient does not claim the donation within three (3) calendar months, the donation shall be forfeited and assigned to the first available recipient per the standard placement process.
    Your donation is critically important and appreciated by VFDs and the communities they serve. 

    To get started:

    • Download the Donation Form
    • List all applicable equipment on one form
    • Specify which department you would like your donation to go to. If none is specified, Texas A&M Forest Service will fill pending requests.

    If applicable, also Apply for Texas Certificate of Title:

    Submit completed forms to:
    Texas A&M Forest Service
    Attn: Helping Hands Program
    481 Texas Forest Service Loop
    Building A456
    Lufkin, Texas 75904

    Or fax: 936-639-8138


     + FAQs

    Q: Is there a limit on the amount of assistance that we may receive?

    A: Yes. Applicants may be skipped if they have received $10,000 or more in Helping Hands assistance during the previous 36 months.


    Q: What types of equipment are available?

    A: A wide array of PPE, fire & rescue equipment, and apparatus continually move through the program. Structural PPE and SCBAs are fairly common, while other items are limited.


    Q: Why do the prices of bottles and air packs fluctuate from time to time?

    A: We do not make a profit off of the fees that we must charge per unit, but it is necessary to charge these fees in order to recoup some of our costs. This can cause the prices to fluctuate.


    Q: How is equipment awarded?

    A: Requests are filled by rating, availability of equipment, and by the total dollar amount of Helping Hands assistance received in the previous 36 months.

     + Contact

    Texas A&M Forest Service
    481 Texas Forest Service Loop
    Building A456
    Lufkin, Texas 75904 
    Attn: Helping Hands
                       Phone: 936-639-8100
    Fax: 936-639-8138