History of Bracken VFD
The Bracken V.F.D. was formed in October 1968. Our response area is the southern portion of Comal County including the city of Garden Ridge. We protect approximately 10,000 citizens in a 75 square mile area. We average 650 emergency calls per year. We first respond to all EMS calls and provide BLS care with intermediate protocols. We are also trained and equipped to respond to swift water, vertical and cave rescue incidents.
We are a combination department with 15 full-time, 20 part-time and 3 volunteer firefighters. We hired our first full-time firefighter in May 1989 after establishing a Rural Fire Prevention District (RFPD #3). In January 1990 we hired our second full-time firefighter and were able to provide 6 am to 6 pm Monday – Friday coverage. In December 1999 we hired our third full-time firefighter and extended our coverage to include Sunday – Thursday nights from 9 pm to 6 am. In January 2002 we began using part-time firefighters to extend coverage to Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 5 pm. By January 2007 we had 3 firefighters on duty during the day and one firefighter on duty at night 24-7. In 2014 we were able to put 4 firefighters on duty 24 hours a day.
Our current chief, Donald Zipp, took office in January 2002.
From October 1968 until August 1969 the department was getting organized. A Board of Directors was formed, funds were raised, a site was chosen and other preparatory work was done. In August of 1969 we took delivery of our first fire truck, a pump and roll 250 gpm, 500 gallon pumper. The day our truck was being delivered it made its first call. We assisted the New Braunfels FD with a 1000 acre grass and brush fire that lasted 10 hours and required 7 departments and approximately 175 firefighters to control.
For the first twenty years our department was funded solely by a small stipend from Comal County, membership dues and donations and two annual fundraisers; a barbecue in May and a Kartoffel Puffer (potato pancake) booth at Wurstfest in New Braunfels during late October early November.
In June 1973, we became the first fire department in Comal County to accept female firefighters, initially 12 women joined the department. For the most part, the women handled any emergency call that came in during the day.
From August 1970 to early 2002 we operated out of a station that had originally been a plumbing shop. The office and bays were sufficient, but very cramped. The building housed 4 fire trucks at first with another bay added in 1984 to house a fifth truck. We also rented out part of the building as a community hall.
In 1985, we built a substation in the Comal area to improve response times and to house our expanding fleet. This station’s location provided better coverage for an elementary school and the residents in the area.
From 1983 to 1987 our department provided EMS transport for our response area. The 15 medics were all volunteers and took turns being “on call.” The ambulance, a Ford type III, was always kept at a member’s residence so the EMTs would not have to first respond to the fire station to pick the unit up. However, in 1987 we decided to discontinue the EMS service due to rising costs. Since then we’ve contracted with the city of Schertz for EMS transport. We still first respond to all medical emergencies and provide medical care on scene.
In 1999, we built our new station in a more centralized area. The station’s location improved response times and was built with housing a full-time firefighting force in mind. Our administrative offices, training room, dorms and maintenance facilities are all located in the new station.
In 2002, we took delivery of the first CAFS pumper in Comal County. The truck has a 1250 gpm pump, 1000 gallon tank and 300 cfm air compressor, giving us the firefighting equivalent of approximately 3000 gallons of straight water. In 2003, we took delivery of our rescue truck which came equipped with a gas operated CAFS.
In 2002, we had to sell our original station due to its limited usefulness, poor location and age.
In 2003 legislation was passed that changed Rural Fire Prevention Districts (RFPDs) to Emergency Services Districts (ESDs).
We receive funding through the Emergency Services District (ESD #6), membership dues, and donations.