EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY- The Porter Fire Department dedicated a new training facility in a Monday night ceremony, led by Porter Fire Chief Jody Binnion, with dignitaries including Congressman Kevin Brady, District Attorney Brett Ligon, Pct. 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart, Pct. 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden and County Judge Alan “Barb” Sadler. The agency also dedicated a new ladder truck and pinned six new paid firefighters.
Brady congratulated the department on “a job well done.”
“The new fire burn center means two things for our area, more highly trained firefighters and a better response time,” Brady said. “These are the people who, when we put our kids to bed at night look over our safety, and watch out for us when we go to work and leave our homes alone.”
“They’re the ones who show up and save our life earnings.”
Brady said the Porter Fire Academy had an impressive hiring rate of 90 percent.
“The federal government in my view spends way too much money, wastes way too much money,” Brady said. “But when we make investments like this, this is when tax dollars really come home to help our community, to help our family, to help our region grow.”
The Congressman presented Binnion with an American flag he had flown over the US Capital in honor of the new facility.
Sadler called the burn building “one of a kind” and praised the agency for the increase in the number of firefighter since he took office in 1990.
Rinehart said the volunteer and paid firefighters put in the same effort.
“The chief is outstanding, very involved with community, the youth, the seniors,” Rinehart said. “Anything I need I can pick up the phone and call Jody.”
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office recently placed a different lieutenant over their District 3, or East County, office. Lt. Darrell Conn was introduced to residents.
The pinning ceremony for new firefighters was a touching part of the event, with each new firefighter “pinned” by someone important in their life.
Deputy Chief David Teverbaugh who is over training, was recognized along with Assistant Fire Chief Carter Johnson.
Teverbaugh, who fought fires in Texas City for 23 years, remarked that three years ago, there were 12 paid firefighters and the number had grown to 24, with enough to fully staff two stations and two apparatus 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Binnion said the facility would be used by other fire departments as well as the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to practice SWAT standoffs and other events.
Recalling the 2003 death of Porter firefighter Gary Staley, Binnion said their training program was good then, but would be greatly improved with the new facility, which will always be available for training.
“It’s going to allow us to train any day we went to,” Binnion said. “If we want to train seven days a week, we can.”
“You become proficient in your duties and your response and when you get to a scene where there’s and actual house fire, it’ll go like clockwork,” he said.
Staley died in a fire at an auto repair shop where he was unable to find his way out following a flashover. His body was discovered less than 10 feet from an exit.
Binnion said he expects to see a big difference in his firefighters because of the facility in three or four months.
PFD expects to open a third station off of Porter Lane and FM 1314 by the end of next summer, and also hope to have it fully staffed, Binnion said.
The Chief was pleased with Monday’s turnout, saying organizers anticipated about 200 attendees. Instead, around 350 people turned out, he said.
“It shows us, in my opinion, exactly where we stand in the community,” Binnion said. “It makes me feel good that they come out and support us like this.”