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
Water park burglar sought
Weatherford and Hudson Oaks police are requesting the public’s assistance in catching a burglar who broke into Splash Kingdom Water Park in Hudson Oaks earlier this month.
Commissioner at odds with school district's demand for land
Aledo ISD superintendent Derek Citty is moving forward with plans backed by the school board in May — plans to secure two school sites in the Morningstar subdivision, slated for the corner of Old Weatherford Road and FM Road 3225 in the City of Fort Worth’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
An unforgettable state championship
Corey Kiser and Riley Sartain, members of Aledo High School’s state champion softball team, honored by trustees last week, are to blame for the 10-3 tattoo on the finger of their coach, Jeff Lemons.
Firefighter arrested for child sexual assault
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 July 21, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Fire protection improving in Aledo
Stephen Watson, interim chief of Emergency Services District No. 1, briefed the Aledo City Council on improvements to the city’s fire protection — including the purchase of a site for a new fire station — in Thursday night’s Aledo City Council session.
Aledo ISD trustees affirm hiring policy
The Aledo ISD School Board affirmed a policy delegating the hiring of most school personnel to the administration by a 4-1 margin last week, with trustees Jay Stringer, David Tillman, Hoyt Harris and Steve Bartley voting in favor and trustee Bobby Rigues arguing that the board should retain the responsibility.
Aledo coffee shop helps support the troops
HUDSON OAKS — Wild West Splash Kingdom was the host of military members and military supporters the night of Saturday, July 19, during ‘Salute the Troops,’ sponsored by Holy Grounds Coffee and Gifts in Aledo and Ducerus College Planning.
Calendar of events
Holy Grounds Coffee & Gifts, at 108 Jearl Street, is hosting a series of outdoor movies in their parking lot at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug. 23.
Admission is free and feature drinks are half price during the films. “The Amazing Spiderman” is Aug. 2, followed by “Tangled” on Aug. 9, “The Lego Movie” on Aug. 16 and “The Avengers” on Aug. 23.
For more information, call 817-440-7770.
A Purple Heart County
County Judge Mark Riley and Parker County commissioners proclaimed Parker County to be a “Purple Heart County” Monday, honoring local veterans and their families in a special ceremony held in the second floor courtroom of the historic courthouse.
Suspicious house fire under investigation
The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.
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