The Concan Volunteer Fire Department soon will purchase new digital radio equipment to improve communication among firefighters and other first responders, thanks to a $20,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bandera Electric Cooperative.
The grant, plus $4,939 in matching funds, will help the fire department upgrade its outdated analog radio system and improve coordination and communication with other agencies and first responders.
"Most of our analog equipment is over 15 years old," said Dick Earnest, president of Concan VFD. "As other entities change to digital, we're at a loss. We've had fundraisers to help raise funds to keep our equipment up-to-date, but we're just a small town. Those of us who will have these new radios will be able to respond to emergencies quicker."
A March 2017 head-on collision in Uvalde County killed 13 people and highlighted the need for better communication equipment, Earnest said. Cell phones at the site barely worked and speaking over analog radio equipment created significant challenges. Switching to digital radios will provide more reliable, secure communication that will help emergency crews respond more quickly and share information with other first responders.
Concan VFD answers fire calls and provides emergency medical services to an area in Uvalde County that swells from a population of less than 2,000 up to 30,000 during tourist season due to its proximity to Garner State Park and the Frio River. There's no police department, so Concan VFD volunteers are usually the first to get calls from dispatch and the first to respond to medical and fire emergencies in Concan, Happy Hollow, Garner State Park and the surrounding area.
Purchasing 10 new digital handheld radios and upgrading the radio tower by adding a new radio repeater will make a big difference and help the department join the "modern world," Earnest said. He said the department plans to continue to grow and has purchased one and a half acres of land near a subdivision in Concan with hopes of one day building a fire station there.
"I'm very appreciative," Earnest said. "What we're getting is a better system for us. It's really a blessing for this small town. I worked for an industrial utility for 35 years, and I know what community assistance is all about. I was so glad to see that this community development grant program existed."
This community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA's Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA's wholesale electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA's effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bandera Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA's wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants are due Jan. 31. More information is available at
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; ensuring a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40 parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. For more information, visit