Smith County firefighters raise over $50,000 for West Fire Dpt. - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Smith County firefighters raise over $50,000 for West Fire Department

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FLINT, TX (KLTV) -

Ever since the explosion in West, East Texans have been reaching out to help.

This weekend, 11 Smith County volunteer fire departments raised nearly $50,000 dollars to help cover the cost of new equipment and funeral expenses for members of the West Fire Department.

19-year-old volunteer firefighter Jana Herrera came up with the idea after being unable to go herself to help.

"I just felt so helpless," Herrera said. "I felt bad for these people. I wanted to do something for them. When they said they weren't allowing anyone to go down to do rescue and help, I thought of the next best thing we could do: a helmet or boot drive."

The small idea for the Flint-Gresham department quickly became a county-wide effort.

"Of course, everybody immediately jumped onboard," said Flint-Gresham firefighter Nicholas Monk. "That's one of the things with firefighting, we're all brotherhood. We all wanted to help our fellow brothers and sisters in West."

Monk said the response was overwhelming.

"Most people were putting in a couple of dollars, whatever loose change they had," Monk said. "Several people emptied ash trays full of change. Then there were multiple people that stopped and asked what we were collecting for, then went to the ATM and came back with up to 200 dollars. Some people wrote personal checks for that amount. It was just amazing for us as firefighters to see that kind of support and backing from the communities that we serve."

Herrera sees it as lending a helping hand to her extended family.

"With fire departments, they are like family," Herrera says. "They are our brothers and our sisters. They are us. We are all the same. When some of them get hurt, we just want to help them. They would do the same for us."

Herrera along with representatives from each Smith County volunteer fire department plan on going to West on Saturday to present checks to the West Fire Department.

The departments are still accepting donations at fire houses across Smith County through Friday.

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