Making the choice
Walker said Aledo VFD has been working since July to select the best option, whether to form their own ESD, or join ESD No. 1 — headquartered in Springtown — ESD No. 3 — based in Hudson Oaks — or ESD No. 6, whose main offices are south of Weatherford.
“Our committee came up with 20 general questions [to ask each ESD],” he said, “and we chose the answers that best fit our department.”
Leondar said both the members of the fire department and the department’s board of directors voted unanimously in favor of ESD No. 1.
ESD No. 1 was selected, Walker said, due to its operational stability, fiscal strength, and track record of support and cooperation with its individual service providers. He said ESD No. 1 offers an administration that includes operational command staff support, a full time fleet maintenance division and staff for accounting, inventory, and human resources, freeing up firefighters to fight fires instead of conducting fund raisers.
“There are plans in the immediate future to add more manpower, more staff, more trucks to serve the Annettas and a station in the Annettas,” Walker said. “There’s more financial stability.”
Also factoring into the decision, Leondar said, is ESD No. 1’s focus on volunteerism, which Vinson said was as key to retaining the department’s heritage as it was to lowering the costs of the unanticipated potential annexation for the ESD.
“We lose the heritage and hometown values if we put in paid volunteers 24-7,” Vinson said, adding that the evening and weekend shifts should be left to the volunteers. “There are many years of tradition here.”
Should voters approve Aledo VFD’s petition, property and equipment will be ceded to the ESD, Vinson said. The department will stay much the same in terms of administration, but on the operational side “everyone — the fire chief, battalion chiefs, captains and lieutenants — will drop a rung,” yet retain the same authority and responsibilities.
If Aledo VFD joins ESD No. 1, Vinson said, he expects a smooth transition.
“When you annex an area a lot of things pop up that you don’t expect, but I think there will be less that pop up in Aledo,” he said. “They run the business end so well. Their primary reason for joining is sustainability.”