Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo

If the Murillo family doesn't capture the top spot on Santa's nice list this year, there's no hope for the rest of us. They have filled their front yard in Grapevine with more than 1,000 lighted Santa decorations as a beacon of awareness for a local nonprofit.

They're calling it, simply, Grapevine Santa House.

The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program. The charity's seasonal initiative provides new, unwrapped gifts to Tarrant County families facing financial hardship.

"I've always been a holiday guy, way over the top," says Louie Murillo, the dad and Santa House head honcho. Anyone who's seen the 20-foot Christmas trees perched atop the the two Chick-fil-A restaurants he owns near Dallas Love Field can attest.

"About a year ago, I bought some Santas on clearance and thought maybe we'd do something with them for a family Christmas card," he says.

Along came COVID-19, and his holiday passion intersected with a desire to help those who were struggling. During his quarantine free-time, he bought a few more Santas online. Then a few more. Then his idea for a Santa House really began to take shape.

"Once we dipped our toe in, we decided to go all out," he says of his family, including kids ages 12 and 14.

His search for Santas took him around Texas and beyond. Murillo even flew to Chicago and drove back a truck loaded with nine reindeer and a sleigh.

By July, one of the home's three attics was stuffed with Santas. Then a game room overflowed with them. By fall, a storage unit was filling up.

To be clear, these aren't just any Santa statues. They're "blow molds," a specific kind of hollow, plastic figure popular in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. They're rarely made now, and considered collectibles, costing anywhere from $30 to $140 apiece.

"How much I've spent is not a number we're gonna discuss nor share with my wife," Murillo says with a laugh. "It definitely got out of hand."

Then there was the matter of lighting it all up. An electrician helped wire the yard with an additional, 14-outlet breaker, and they're hoping a switch to LED lighting helps ease the electricity bill a little.

Some decorations are set up in vignettes, and Murillo's favorite piece isn't actually a Santa. It's a vintage church, an expensive piece he found in Chicago. The display also includes carolers and a nativity, and a sign urges people to tune to a radio station to hear the Christmas story from the Bible.

Murillo reached out to the Grace organization about a partnership at the perfect time. Their need would be higher than ever at a time at the holidays, when fewer gatherings meant fewer opportunities for donations to be collected. Typically, Christmas Cottage serves more than 2,500 individuals and families each holiday season. Families are given a hypothetical “budget” that allows the parents to “purchase” donated toys, home goods, and appliances in a secure, store-like setting.

The Murillos' goal is to raise $15,000 with Santa House, which will help 120 kids. By December 1, just a few days after turning the lights on, they were already at $9,000.

Rather than collecting contributions on site, they're encouraging guests to donate online via a GoFundMe page set up in conjunction with the Santa House.

Among the first visitors to the Santa House was a single mom whose child had been helped by Grace, Murillo says. Mom and daughter enjoyed the lights and then made a donation — they paid the kindness forward.

"It's cool to see real people being helped that are in need," Murillo says. "It's fun just to see kids' excitement. We've all been stuck indoors, not traveling, and this is something to do as a family."

The Santa House lights will go on every night from 5-10 pm through December 27. The home is on a cul-de-sac in the Western Oaks neighborhood, and visitors can park along the street.

The exact location is 3373 Spruce Lane, Grapevine. Follow the Grapevine Santa House Facebook page for updates.

The Murillo family home has become the Grapevine Santa House.

Santa House Grapevine
Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo
The Murillo family home has become the Grapevine Santa House.
Photo courtesy of Performing Arts Fort Worth

5 new virtual fundraisers to add to Dallas-Fort Worth social diaries this fall

Coronavirus pivot

The coronavirus pandemic continues to prevent nonprofits from holding large luncheons, galas, and parties, but many are still finding creative ways to raise crucial funds.

While organizers of some big events, like Fort Worth's Jewel Charity Ball and Classically Cliburn Gala, are scratching their galas entirely from the 2020 and 2021 calendars (both are postponed until 2022), others, like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, are simply holding scaled-down versions of their events, with strict attendance limits for social distancing.

Many are still pivoting to virtual formats to fit in one last opportunity to raise money before the year ends.

Below are the latest Dallas-Fort Worth fundraisers that patrons can join using their favorite electronic device. More upcoming virtual benefits are listed here.

Virtually TITAS Gala, October 6
TITAS' annual performance gala, which normally takes place in person during a full season, will feature all seven U.S. dance companies from the Dallas dance group's 2020-21 season. They include New York's Ballet Hispanico, Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet out of San Francisco, and more. The event is free, and donations are accepted. Not only will the gala benefit TITAS, but it will also give the companies an opportunity to present their work to the public at a time when performances are not happening in person. The gala will start at 7 pm, and registration is required here. Once registered, patrons will receive an email with viewing instructions.

Epilepsy Foundation Texas Virtual Dinner Party, October 24
The local Epilepsy Foundation is partnering with Del Frisco's Grille to bring the restaurant home. Participants will pick up a "culinary kit" containing ingredients for a gourmet steak and salmon dinner, salad, side, and bottle of wine. Then, at 6:30 pm, Hell's Kitchen winner, chef Ariel Fox, will join in virtually for private meal preparation instruction. All proceeds benefit the foundation's seizure clinics, school first aid education, and summer camp programs — all of which are offered at no cost to communities. Tickets, $275, can be reserved through the website.

Heart (at Home) for the Homeless benefiting Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County, November 10
The sixth annual Union Gospel Mission benefit will be presented for guests to enjoy at home. Favorite Fort Worth singer-songwriter Josh Weathers will be the featured entertainer at a virtual, hour-long concert experience that begins at 7 pm. Tickets, $100, can be purchased through the website, and sponsorships are still available. A virtual event admission link will be emailed before the concert, and one admission link will be good for an entire household. Union Gospel Mission provides love, hope, respect, and a new beginning for those experiencing homelessness in Tarrant County.

Lakewood Home Festival Virtual Auction Party, November 13
The 44th Annual Lakewood Home Tour has two parts, neither of them a "traditional" home tour. The weekend of events, November 13-15, starts with a free “Lakewood Live” virtual auction party. A Saturday Night Live-style presentation will include pre-recorded skits, special musical performances, and both live and silent auctions. Guests are encouraged to don their SNL-inspired costumes and party in place. (Party Packs, premium gift baskets filled with a DIY cocktail kit, merchandise, and more, are available for pre-purchase.)

Then, the home tour will proceed as a street-view only event on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-5 pm. The official home tour guidebook is available online for $20 and is the only way to see interior photographs. So you drive up to a home, flip through the book to read about what's behind the doors, and drive on to the next one. All proceeds go to the Woodrow Wilson feeder pattern of schools; for more information, visit the website.

Circle Theatre Holiday Punch Online Fundraiser, December 5
The beloved Fort Worth theater's fundraiser is getting a new, virtual twist: "We will gather digitally to hear performances from our favorite local artists and celebrate the hope of theater coming back to our stage in 2021," they say. The free event, which takes place at 7 pm December 5, will continue Circle's tradition of showcasing original monologues commissioned by patrons and performed by seasoned local actors. It will also include a video featuring the faces of Circle Theatre, an online auction, live prize drawings and a wine pull via social media, and surprises from the Circle staff. To get started, you can have your favorite holiday memory or Circle anecdote turned into a monologue for $250. Purchase and find out more at their website.

Photo courtesy of National Cowgirl Museum

5 new can't-miss virtual fall fundraisers in Dallas-Fort Worth

Coronavirus pivot

In this year of social distancing and canceled gatherings, many nonprofit galas and luncheons are pivoting creatively to virtual formats. They can still raise crucial funds to continue providing services without risking the health and safety of patrons.

Below are the five latest Dallas-Fort Worth organizations to hold virtual fundraisers — and how to join in the fun without slipping on stilettos.

TeamTait For TeamConnor, September 25
TeamConnor was founded in 2008 while young Connor Cruse was in the midst of his four-year battle with neuroblastoma cancer. Today, Connor’s father, Tait Cruse, is fighting a similar battle. From 6 am until midnight September 25, participants can walk, run, swim, bike, Peloton, jump rope, climb a mountain, or participate in anything athletic to stand against cancer. Participants are encouraged to post photos on social media with the hashtag #TeamTait4TeamConnor. Participants can register at TeamConnor.org. The initiative has already raised about $ 424,000 and is striving to reach a $1 million goal.

Virtual Old Bags Luncheon benefiting National Cowgirl Museum, October 20
Each year since 2013, the Fort Worth museum has partnered with designers to create an auction based around gently used designer purses. Proceeds go to support the museum’s educational efforts. This year the event goes virtual, with the exception of the two-day, paid-only viewing days; the entire event will span six days. Guests that had previously purchased tickets for the luncheon (still available for a $125 donation) may preview the bags in person at the museum on October 18 and 19. On October 20 those original ticket holders will have a full day of early bidding. Oct. 21, 22, and 23 Old Bag’s shopping will open up for anyone to bid. The virtual experience will provide a ‘Buy Now’ option and chances to simply place a competitive bid. For more information and updates, visit the event's Facebook page.

Dine In to Stop Domestic Violence benefiting The Family Place, October 24
Unable to "ReuNight" in-person this year, past co-chairs of the dinner fundraiser are encouraging the community to "U-Night" to support The Family Place and its mission to end family violence. Supporters are invited to dine in on October 24; they'll enjoy a four-course elevated dining experience with wine and a floral arrangement from Grey Gardens Florist within the comfort of home. Dinner will be prepared by the innovative Chef Jordan Swim of Vestals Catering and Front Burners Restaurants. Diners will receive a locally sourced farm-to-table meal featuring a charcuterie board, fall vegetable salad, beef entrée, and dessert. Vegetarian options will also be included upon request. Top donors have the option of hosting an executive chef to prepare the four-course dinner in their home. For more information and registration beginning at $375, visit the website.

Camp Fire An Artists' Christmas Virtual Gala and Art Auction, November 13
In lieu of gathering in-person this year, An Artists’ Christmas is being presented online. The beloved Fort Worth Camp Fire fundraiser will allow patrons to bid on art donated by local and nationally recognized artists and engage in a live auction featuring luxury packages. The main event takes place 7-8 pm November 13, but tickets and sponsorships at various levels are on sale, and auction packages and art will be available for viewing ahead of the event. While the event will be enjoyed in the comfort of home, why not dress up a little? "Festive cocktail attire" is encouraged. For more information and tickets, visit the event's website.

Cancer Support Community North Texas' "Paint the Canvas Red" at-home fundraiser, November 14
Cancer Support Community North Texas' inaugural "Paint the Canvas Red" fundraiser is a virtual, hands-on art and wine event that allows people to paint and drink wine from the comfort of their own couches. The idea is to show how the power of art has helped thousands of cancer patients heal and stay mentally healthy — especially during this frightening pandemic. CSCNT will send participants a canvas, wine, and art supplies for the $125 ticket price. The live event will take place from 7-9 pm November 14 and proceeds will provide the ongoing social and emotional support programs and services to all impacted by cancer across DFW.

Tito's Vodka pours $1 million into Texas research institution for COVID-19 vaccine

Research on the Rocks

A famous Texas vodka distiller is sending funds to a research group that's working on a vaccine to fight the coronavirus.

Austin-based Tito's Handmade Vodka — through its philanthropic arm Love, Tito's — has pledged to give Baylor College of Medicine in Houston a $1 million grant to accelerate research on a vaccine for the virus.

Two BCM researchers are taking the work they began in 2011 to develop a SARS vaccine with the intent to make adjustments to target SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Dr. Peter Hotez is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi is the associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. The duo serve as co-directors of the Texas Children's Hospital for Vaccine Development, as well.

"Our coronavirus vaccine is designed in Texas and tested in Texas with the utmost priority to ensure it is safe and effective," Bottazzi says in a news release. "To now see that it will be supported by Texas-based Tito's is a testament that our state will be recognized as being at the forefront of this pandemic, making a difference and reaching all populations locally and globally."

Hotez and Bottazzi focus on developing vaccines for new or neglected tropical diseases that affect those living in poverty around the world. Along with their partnership with PATH, a global nonprofit organization that will help speed up the vaccine's regulatory phase, the doctors' work from 2011 on SARS is promising and will hopefully help safely and quickly develop a COVID vaccine.

"It's an honor to work with Tito's on this life-saving initiative, which we hope will ultimately lead to a vaccine for America," Hotez says in the release. "Our vision is that it would also advance as a low-cost global health vaccine, now that COVID-19 is racing through Latin American nations, such as Ecuador and Brazil, in addition to South Asia."

Love, Tito's has contributed to a few other organizations amid the COVID-19 crisis, including: Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), USBG National Charity Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Campaign, World Central Kitchen, and Southern Smoke Foundation's Emergency Relief Fund.

"Everything we do at Tito's is rooted in giving back to the communities we serve, and this pandemic is no exception," says Sarah Everett, director of global impact and research at Tito's Handmade Vodka.

"We applaud the worldwide effort to fund and support vaccines that look promising, because we can never know in advance which ones will be effective. We're proud to support Dr. Hotez, Dr. Bottazzi and their team's work to improve humanity's odds of success against COVID-19 and future coronavirus mutations."


This story originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap.com.

One-day fundraising blitz aids North Texas nonprofits reeling from coronavirus impact

Giving back

UPDATE: North Texas Giving Tuesday Now raised $20.7 million for more than 2,500 area nonprofits. Another $21.8 million was raised by specific COVID-19 relief funds, the organizers announced on May 6.


The spirit of generosity is alive in North Texas, with residents from Fort Worth to Forney supporting businesses and individuals most impacted by the coronavirus crisis. On Tuesday, May 5, a community-wide campaign will show special love to struggling Dallas-Fort Worth nonprofits.

North Texas Giving Tuesday Now is an online fundraising event to help nonprofits faced with extraordinary challenges due to the pandemic. Organized by the United Way, the Dallas Cowboys, and Communities Foundation of Texas' North Texas Giving Day, the one-day campaign will last from 6 am to midnight May 5. Gifts can be scheduled in advance.

"Our greatest asset in an unprecedented time is each other," the organizations say on the website. "With many nonprofits seeing an increase in demand for critical services and cancellations of in-person fundraising opportunities, all charitable organizations, including North Texas nonprofit organizations, are reeling from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic."

More than 3,000 nonprofits of every stripe — food banks, theaters, museums, parochial schools, homeless shelters, veterans' causes, even wildlife rescues — will be participating in the virtual fundraiser.

Donors simply search the website for their favorite nonprofit or browse the 21 cause areas until they find one they like. They can make a secure, one-time donation through the site and create a "FUNdraising page" to rally support from others.

The #GivingTuesdayNow effort will get a celebrity boost from “The Concert for North Texas Giving Tuesday Now,” hosted by singer Caroline Kraddick, airing on CBS 11 from 6:30-7 pm May 5. Performers include Ryan Cabrera, Jason and Michael Castro, Josh Abbott, Jaret Reddick, and more. There will be a special message from the Dallas Cowboys.

Special events
But, wait. There's more.

Many organizations will hold their own special events and campaigns to help generate support. Here's a sampling of what they're doing:

The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation has teamed up with the Levitt Pavilion for a day of free live-streaming music. Beginning at 11 am, performers taking the stage include Brad Russell Band, September Moon, Latin Express, Steve Helms, and award-winning singer/songwriter Sara Hickman (at 7 pm). The shows will be live-streamed through the Levitt's Facebook page. For the Arlington concert venue, the emergency campaign will provide critical funds to help them keep bringing patrons free music.

In honor of North Texas Giving Tuesday Now, Theatre Three is hosting a free livestream on Facebook of award-winning local playwright Matt Lyle's new work. The working reading, featuring local actors, will also have the playwright and director (Jeffrey Schmidt) answer questions and participate in discussion during the reading. It takes place at 7 pm. For more information about the play, go here.

Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity will host a virtual Home Sweet Home event with special guest Kellie Rasberry, host of the Kidd Kraddick radio show on 106.1 Kiss FM. At 11 am, guests who purchase a $75 "ticket" will get to take a virtual peek around Rasberry's house as she talks about what "home sweet home" means to her. Gifts received from the event will help provide mortgage relief for a growing number of Habitat homeowners who are experiencing job loss or job interruption due to COVID-19.

The Arts Foundation of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano will host a livestream-only concert featuring local artists, beginning at 10 am. It will benefit The Storehouse of Collin County and will feature performances by Imperial Brass; Chris Widomski, saxophone; Ladies Liberty Show Troupe; Yumiko Endo Schlaffer, harp; Kaylyn Wilson, soprano; Noah Bales, tenor; Michael Agnew, spoken word; Megan Koch, soprano; Lucik Aprahamian, mezzo-soprano; and Martha Walvoord, violin. Additionally, Krista Miller, a visual artist, will paint a custom piece live to be auctioned at the conclusion to also benefit The Storehouse.

“The Storehouse has seen more than a 100 percent increase in neighbors needing food and relies on funding to purchase items from the North Texas Food Bank, says foundation director Jonathan Gregoire. "This telethon-style fundraiser is designed to help The Storehouse serve an increasing number of neighbors in need.”

To raise an additional $6 million needed to meet increased demand related to COVID-19, The Salvation Army of North Texas has secured an anonymous $250,000 matching gift for #GivingTuesdayNow to prompt donations to support families in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis and Tarrant counties that are experiencing a loss in income.

“We recognize that times are tough and people may not have a lot to give," says Major Barbara Rich, Salvation Army's area commander. "Thanks to a very generous matching gift, what we receive on #GivingTuesdayNow will be amplified exponentially, and our plans to not turn anyone away will remain intact.”

Dallas-Fort Worth artist talks inspiration behind her bright new downtown mural
Courtesy photo

Dallas-Fort Worth artist talks inspiration behind her bright new downtown mural

Opt for Optimism

If you happen to be in Dallas, seek out the new "Optimism Starts With You" mural that has gone up on the side of the Sheraton Dallas' parking garage, in downtown's Pacific Plaza Park. The giant public artwork has brought a bright burst of color to the area.

"Optimism is important for the community because it's something you can have inside of you regardless of what the outside circumstances are," says Mari Pohlman, the local artist who goes by Marpohl and who painted the mural. "How you can continue looking for opportunities and things you can still do even if you're in a tough spot."

It's the latest project in Frost Bank's Opt for Optimism campaign, in partnership with CultureMap. The colorful new artwork is based around the idea that optimism may start with one person, but it can easily ripple out through small acts and thoughtful moments, therefore changing the people and communities around you.

The mural's silhouette is meant to encourage passersby to stand in its place for photo opps.

Pohlman's hoping that the mural will remind everyone that it's okay to start small. "You may not know what impact your actions have, but it can continue out from you," she says.

Pohlman also created an Opt for Optimism Spotify playlist. Give it a listen if you're in need of some pick-me-up tunes.

And if you're looking for some fresh air, stop by and snap a pic with the uplifting mural at 400 N. Olive St. Be sure to tag @culturemapdal and #optforoptimism if you snap a picture.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Ultra-chic Postino WineCafe brings wine and bruschetta to Southlake

Wine News

A nationally acclaimed wine bar-restaurant has opened in Southlake: Postino WineCafé, specializing in wine, bites, and a chic atmosphere, opened a location at 1440 Main St., in Southlake Town Square, in the no-brainer slot next to Trader Joe's.

Postino is known for its daily happy hour, bruschetta boards, and menu built for sharing, as well as a laid-back atmosphere, designed for all-day hangouts with friends, date nights, client get-togethers, and family outings.

The chain first came to Dallas in 2021 when they opened a location in Deep Ellum. They closed that location two years later in March 2023 and relocated to Addison, where they just opened in August.

"We are thrilled to bring Postino to Southlake and the heart of bustling Town Square," says Postino Co-Founder Lauren Bailey. “The Dallas/Fort Worth market is very important to us, and we are excited to be expanding our footprint here so soon – just a month since debuting in Addison."

Founded in Arizona in 2001, Postino's goal is to bring people together over wine and food. Its bruschettas are a menu mainstay, artfully presented on boards made of reclaimed wood, with 12 variations including:

  • Prosciutto Di Parma, Fresh Fig & Mascarpone
  • Sweet N’ Spicy Pepper Jam & Goat Cheese
  • Brie, Apple and Fig Spread
  • Ricotta, Dates & Pistachio

Guests can mix and match four bruschetta per board, meaning you can try more than one a time. The entire menu is that way: designed without a definitive beginning or end, with the freedom to tailor your experience based on the occasion, from a meal to a swift bite.

A category called Snacky Things features chicken and filet skewers with garlic yogurt, shrimp scampi, and crispy cauliflower with sultana raisins, capers, and a Romesco drizzle.

There are entrée salads, soups, hand-pressed paninis (on ciabatta or focaccia bread), with the option to mix-and-match sandwich, salad, and soup.

Desserts include: Chocolate Bouchon with vanilla bean ice cream, Crème Brulee, and Salted Caramel Sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate covered corn nuts, pretzel sticks, and salted caramel drizzle.

Weekend brunch is served from 11 am-3 pm with spritzy cocktails, lemonades, and bowls

The wine list by Advanced Sommelier and Beverage VP Brent Karlicek is especially fun to sample during their 11 am-5 pm happy hour spotlighting 25-plus wines for $6 a glass, along with $6 pitchers of beer, both local and beyond.

"We fervently champion winemakers across the globe – from trailblazers like Folk Machine, Mary Taylor, and Scarpetta to the guardians of tradition like Ernst Loosen and Bonny Doon," Karlicek says in a statement. "Producers dedicated to crafting approachable, harmonious wines without sacrificing excellence truly resonate with us. Our aim is to kindle a symphony of excitement and curiosity within our patrons during their dining journey."

Decor is attuned to the neighborhood, with art installations and local/vintage finds. At Southlake, that means a tribute to the Back to The Future series, which was the original inspiration that shaped architect Brian Stebbins’s design for Town Square. An interior wall is decked with close to 400 vintage clocks, juxtaposed by plants.

A semi-private dining space can accommodate up to 14 guests for showers, parties, and other events.

Fort Worth Fire Department welcomes its largest recruit class ever

Firefighter News

The Fort Worth Fire Department must be doing something right: On September 25, the department welcomed its newest class of recruits at Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex to start their Fire Training Academy journey, a 36-week course.

With 60 recruits, the class is twice the size as the usual Academy class — making it the largest recruit class in the history of the department.

The class of 60 includes two sub-groups:

  • The first group, Class 93, consists of 10 "fast-tracked" students who already hold their Fire and EMS certifications. They'll graduate on November 17.
  • The second group, Class 94, consists of 50 brand new recruits who hold no certifications. They'll graduate on May 17, 2024.

This largest class in the history of the Fort Worth Fire Department comes after the Mayor, City Council and City Management’s vote to approve staffing levels where they need to be for a Department serving a city this size.

In August, a fire ad-hoc committee recommended increasing the fire department's staffing with 76 new positions, from 979 to 1,049 positions - particularly to cut back on overtime costs, racked up due to an increase in the number of special events they are called on to cover.

The recommendation called for the department to take on two 50-person recruitment classes, one in September and one in February, with approximately 25 percent predicted to fall out due to attrition, for a total of 76.

In addition to the increased number of recruits attending the Academy, staffing studies and negotiations with City leadership and stakeholders has made room for an additional 15 people to be added to the training team. These new training instructors, as well as the use of adjunct instructors from within the Department, will provide even more skill-based learning opportunities with experienced and tenured firefighters.

In a statement, Chief JIm Davis said, "I want to thank the Mayor, City Council and City Management for their diligence in seeing us through our staffing study and helping make the necessary adjustments to our staffing levels. I’m excited that the Department is growing alongside the City of Fort Worth and look forward to watching the new recruits go through one of the best training academy’s in the country."