The Todd Mission Volunteer Fire Department covers a 30-square-mile radius, and its team continues to expand in membership. With firefighters needing more space to conduct basic tasks, the department is raising money to expand its current fire station.
Though the population of Todd Mission itself is less than 200 people, the fire department for the small Grimes County town services an area 15 times the size of its municipal borders. Todd Mission firefighters respond to emergencies in the Plantersville and Whitehall areas and assist fire departments in Montgomery County and Waller County. Todd Mission VFD also is primary emergency responder for the Texas Renaissance Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each fall.
Department Chief Cassandra Malone said the department of more than 30 volunteers works with five emergency vehicles and a base building containing truck bays and an equipment area which doubles as meeting space. The structure was erected in 2013, when the department served not as an independent entity, but as an extension of other Grimes County volunteer response systems, Malone said. Last year Todd Mission’s volunteers initiated the process of forming their own department, and this February they formally began taking dispatched calls as the Todd Mission Volunteer Fire Department.
Though the department base has expanded once since its inception to create room for all five vehicles, firefighters have no place to store their bunker gear, and no place to separate food from hazardous materials. Firefighters don’t even have a bathroom.
“Now we are trying to expand our building to house our firefighters, because we have more people than we do space,” Malone said.
Malone said that although ultimately the department would like to expand to have sleeping space for volunteers, at the moment they are seeking only to add on to the two existing structures to create specific areas for gear storage, a meeting room and a bathroom.
“We did have a carpenter come out and draw up some blueprints, make a layout and explain the ideas,” she said. “We have [drawings] now of what our final expansion would be, but we’re just looking to make things comfortable and safe for our recruits we have now.”
The department is hoping to raise $5,000 for building supplies. Malone said many of her firefighters are craftsmen, including at least one electrician, and the volunteers want to build the extension themselves, for free.
“They have the heart and the desire to do it, but they just need the funds now,” she said. “... We want to develop our department to beat the growth of the local area that’s coming, and be ready to go out and train instead of playing catch-up.”
The department has hosted a local picnic fundraiser and will host another on Aug. 10. Anyone wanting to donate online is asked to donate via Facebook on the Todd Mission Volunteer Fire page, where a donation campaign has been initiated. So far the fundraiser has garnered $1,070.
Malone said anyone wanting to donate by mail can send a check, care of the Todd Mission Volunteer Fire Department at 21718 F.M. 1774, Todd Mission, TX 77363. For both Facebook and mail donations, Malone will make contact with the donor and provide tax forms. She also said the public is invited to watch the firefighters train at their weekly meeting at the fire station on F.M. 1774 each Wednesday at 7 p.m.