By BRIAN SMITH
After more than an hour’s discussion and a 3-2 vote, Weatherford City Council members approved a joint working agreement with Emergency Services District No. 3, which provides fire and emergency services to Hudson Oaks and a part of unincorporated Parker County, during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Council members Heidi Wilder and Waymon Hamilton voted against the measure, both saying they disputed how the agreement could be cost neutral to the city. Wilder insisted she wanted to be good neighbors but said she couldn’t vote for the measure if she believed it detrimental to the residents.
“I believe there are inconsistencies with the formula being used,” Wilder said. “I just don’t see this as a winning situation for the citizens of Weatherford.”
WFD Fire Chief Paul Rust said under the agreement, which is for one year and expected to begin today, the department would expand its budget by about $200,000 to cover the cost of three of ESD No. 3’s six firefighters but the district itself would pay the $200,000. The other three firefighters would take the three empty spots already in the department budget, Rust said.
Under the contract, the city would close Station 2 and move its firefighters into the ESD No. 3 building. The contract would allow the city use of all the ESD No. 3 equipment. Any new fire equipment needed would be paid for by ESD No. 3, including the purchase and construction of a new fire station, which Rust said is desperately needed.
The contract also puts four firefighters on a truck immediately, allowing for more efficient fighting of fires, Rust said. Rust said state mandates require four firefighters to be on the scene before a fire can be worked if everyone is safe and out of the structure. If there is a rescue to be performed, however, three firefighters can start work immediately without waiting for additional personnel to arrive.