LCRA awards $7,098 grant to Rising Star VFD for new communications equipment

New base radios and warning siren will improve fire department communications during emergencies

Nov. 29, 2023

LCRA representatives present a $7,098 grant to the Rising Star Volunteer Fire Department for new base radios and an emergency siren. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Jim Carpenter, Rising Star mayor; Wayne Jones, VFD administrative officer; Clayton Williams, firefighter; Gwen Eberhart, VFD secretary and treasurer; Jason Weger, Eastland County sheriff; Carol Freeman and Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board members; David Hullum, Eastland County judge; Josh Constancio, fire chief; and Cooper Hogg, LCRA Regional Affairs representative.

RISING STAR, Texas – The Rising Star Volunteer Fire Department soon will purchase and install new communications equipment to help improve its emergency response, thanks to a $7,098 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority. The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with about $1,770 in matching funds from the VFD, will enable the department to install base radios to improve communications between the fire station and the county Emergency Operations Center. The more powerful radios will help Rising Star VFD maintain constant communication and better coordinate efforts with its firefighters and other departments. “During the March wildfires, we noticed a huge deficit in our station communications and advanced warning systems,” said Josh Constancio, fire chief. “We have mobile radios, but they’re not powerful enough to broadcast out far enough. They flat failed, and we were unable to communicate with our trucks in the field.” In addition to coordinating emergency responses, the department shares updates and emergency information with the public on social media and through mass alert notifications. “We were two miles from the fire station and couldn’t talk to the station,” Constancio said. “We update our Facebook page and can send Code Red mass alert notifications. We had to call the sheriff to push out Code Red because we couldn’t communicate using our equipment. I try to manage our Facebook page, but I can’t manage it from the front seat of a brush truck. The new equipment will address all these issues. It’s a lot easier to do over a radio rather than a cellphone.” The grant also will allow the department to install a new warning siren that can be operated from inside the fire station to alert residents of impending weather events. “During events or emergencies, we have people at the station communicating with the trucks, sharing information on social media and setting off the siren,” Constancio said. “Before, we’d have to stand outside in the pounding hail and rain to manually turn it on.” Rising Star VFD serves about 1,500 people and portions of Eastland, Brown, Callahan and Comanche counties. “Getting this grant is a blessing,” Constancio said. “I didn’t think we’d be able to pull this off without help. Those base radios are pretty expensive. We just don’t have extra money in our budget to take on projects like this.” The community grant is one of 45 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

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