LA JOYA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — District 28 U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar recently awarded the La Joya Volunteer Fire Department $1.275 million in funds. The funds will go towards upgrading their fire station.

La Joya FD Fire Captain Gilbert Salinas told ValleyCentral the funding came as a surprise but was long overdue.

The fire station has been up and running for 32 years and since the initial opening of the building, has not been renovated or upgraded at all, according to Assistant Fire Chief Alvin Patina.

Patina added they are looking to add a training room for in-house training, new dorms for males and females, and more adequate storage for their equipment.

The current station only allows for firefighters to keep their gear outside in their bays which is not under climate control. This along with other failed building requirements that do not meet building code standards.

The city of La Joya is currently working with local engineers to lay out floor plans.

According to Patina, the goal is to start in the first several months of 2022 and wrap up construction by December.

Both Patina and Salinas said once these renovations come to fruition, it will make the job much easier. Salinas added he’s most excited to see how everything turns out at the end of this project.

The funds will not only serve the fire department but also the community as the station will be relocating to a central point between both expressways.

The total cost of the project is set to be $1.7 million. Congressman Cuellar’s funding will only help with 75% of the project, but Patina said there are other grants they are receiving that will be intended to cover the rest.

Aside from a new fire station, the La Joya Fire Department is looking for more volunteers. After spending a year in the department, they will pay for the Fire Academy through Safety Trained Supervisor Construction (STSC) which could save volunteers $3,000-$4,000, according to Patina.