Dec. 6, 2017 — PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department received a fire truck today, donated by the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department from Virginia.

    The donation was facilitated through the Texas A&M Forest Service Helping Hands Program that allows the transfer of firefighting and rescue equipment and vehicles to volunteer fire departments in need.  

    Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas Aug. 25, 2017, leaving the Port Aransas VFD with several damaged fire trucks and many of their firefighters dealing with damage to their own homes.

    Officials from Texas A&M Forest Service, State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association, Texas Fire Chiefs Association, Texas Interstate Fire Mutual Aid System, and State Fire Marshal’s Office, officials deployed an online Rapid Fire Department Assessment Tool August 29 to determine needs local fire departments had as a result of the storm and sought both monetary and equipment donations to help Texas fire departments impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

    Port Aransas VFD was among 20 Texas departments identified as damaged or destroyed.

    Today, Texas A&M Forest Service and Philomont Volunteer Fire Department presented a donated fire truck to Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department.

    “The Helping Hands Program is aptly named,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “Just as the Texas A&M Forest Service has helped its neighbors in the past, now Texas needs help to recover from Hurricane Harvey. I want to personally thank the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department for this life-saving donation and especially the volunteers who drove the truck cross-country to deliver it.”

    The truck was driven from Virginia to Port Aransas by firefighters from Philomont Volunteer Fire Department.

    “When we saw the flooding and damage on the television we went to county fire chief and asked what we could do to help,” said Philomont Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Pearsall. “The fire service is a brotherhood and everyone does what they can to help each other.”

    The truck is a 2001 fire engine that can be used to fight structure fires, respond to vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. It will help to build the capacity of Port Aransas to levels prior to Hurricane Harvey.

    “I would like to thank the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department for working through the Helping Hands Program to get this fire truck to us,” said Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chris Shanklin. “We cannot thank them and Texas A&M Forest Service enough.”

    Texas A&M Forest Service is committed to protecting lives and property through a suite of Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Programs. The Helping Hands Program allows donations of fire and rescue equipment and fire trucks to fire departments while providing liability relief to the donor. The program routinely receives donations of structural gear, fire hoses, nozzles, rescue tools, ladders, ventilation fans and other items that are essential to the operation of a fire department.

    For more information on programs offered by Texas A&M Forest Service, please visit