By Judy Sheridan and Brian Smith
Annetta North councilman Rob Watson read a report at the Dec. 10 Annetta North council meeting championing the effects of the recent consolidation of the Weatherford Fire Department and Emergency Services District No. 3.
The new metro-area operation, approved by both parties Nov. 12, covers the Lake Weatherford area, all of Hudson Oaks, most of Annetta North and part of Annetta.
Watson told the council that the consolidation has doubled the number of full-time paid firefighters at the Hudson Oaks fire station — from six to 12 — allowing the station to respond to 911 calls with four full-time paid firemen and ensuring quick action.
“A Texas regulation requires four firemen to be present before an unoccupied burning house fire can be attacked,” he explained, “so two volunteer firemen would need to be at the station to respond with the two full-time paid firemen to avoid any loss of time.
“However, this doesn’t always happen, and therefore the first firefighters cannot attack the fire until a second truck arrives with the necessary additional men.”
The boost in manpower will also prove helpful when firefighters from the Hudson Oaks station provide mutual aid in the Aledo and Willow Park areas, Watson said.
The consolidation, deemed feasible after a study of 911 calls in the coverage areas, Watson said, will also maximize efficiency.
“Overall the new operation’s cost is expected to stay flat,” he said. “The fire departments will save cash in some areas because they will operate out of one fire station instead of two, and in many cases make single purchases of equipment that will be shared.”
The Weatherford City Council approved the one-year joint agreement by a 3-2 vote, with council members Heidi Wilder and Waymon Hamilton disputing the cost-neutral supposition.
The department’s budget will expand by about $200,000 to add three of the ESD’s six firefighters, Weatherford Fire Department Fire Chief Paul Rust said, but the ESD will cover the expense.
The other three firefighters are filling empty spots in the budget.
Under terms of the contract, Weatherford has closed Station No. 2 on West Lake Drive and moved its firefighters to the Hudson Oaks facility, some 4.5 miles away.
The terms allow the city to use all of the ESD’s equipment and state that any new fire equipment needed — up to and including the purchase and construction of a fire station — will be paid for by the ESD.
In fact, purchasing a $500,000 fire truck was removed from the City of Weatherford’s FY 2014 budget during negotiations with ESD No. 3, Weatherford City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said.
Rust has said the cost savings from not having to purchase a new fire engine, build a new station or buy land will be used to bring firefighter salaries up to the average for cities of the same size.
Consolidation efforts are unpopular because people don’t want to lose control, Watson said.
“Quality improvement collaboratives for better emergency services will become more common in the future,” he said, “provided that the fear of losing control, the fear of change and the fear of being left behind financially do not interfere with efforts to provide the best emergency service to our residents.”
By Judy Sheridan and Brian Smith
- Aledo ExtrA
Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges
A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Developer withdraws site plan
ANNETTA —A controversial 34-home subdivision proposed for a 41-acre tract on Duncan Road will not go forward as planned, according to action taken by both the proposed developer and the Annetta Town Council after a public hearing Thursday night.
Aledo City Council to meet July 24
The Aledo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Aledo Community Center, 104 Robinson Court, Aledo.
Fires damage business, home
Two separate fires around 2 p.m. July 15 damaged a Willow Park business and destroyed the home of a Weatherford family.
Letter to the Editor
Thursday night, July 17, I was present for a surprisingly interesting experience when State Representative candidate Matthew Britt addressed a small group of supporters, followed by a question and answer session.
ESD 1, Annetta South close on fire station site
Parker County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Annetta South officials said Tuesday that the ESD is homing in on a site for a new fire station to serve residents in the Annettas and surrounding areas. Annetta South is expected to consider a zoning change to accommodate a new station next month.
Registration has begun for Aledo ISD
Aledo ISD enrollment for the 2014-15 school year began yesterday, July 21, and students new to the district need to register before school begins, Monday, Aug. 25.
County scrambling to fill elections post
Former Parker County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins, who sought, but was not appointed to the post of Parker County Elections Administrator after Robert Parten retired, last week began work as assistant elections administrator for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans has confirmed.
Willow Park tackles 11-street project
The Willow Park City Council last week picked a list of 11 streets they’d like repaired as part of the city’s next road repair project, a significant portion of the 17-road, $850,000 list of needed repairs.
Teens arrested for throwing rocks on interstate
Two 14-year-old boys are facing charges after reportedly throwing rocks at passing vehicles on Interstate 20 Tuesday afternoon, damaging trucks and injuring a woman.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges