ESD 1 Board raising VFD payouts to offset costs

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

March 30, 2022

The Hill County Emergency Services District (ESD) 1 Board of Commissioners met in regular session Thursday, March 17, and discussed measures to save on fuel costs.

Fire departments have been dealing with rising operating costs, plus an uptick in calls for service. The board instructed departments to restrict the number of vehicles responding to calls for service to one per department. Board President Ken Goins said that exceptions will be made based on the severity of the call.

Goins also instructed departments to be aware of situations where multiple departments have been dispatched. He said that the first to arrive on the scene should advise the additional departments on the equipment needed to address the call. The measure would prevent departments from deploying unnecessary equipment and increase efficiency.

The board approved a 20-percent increase in payouts to departments per call to help offset costs. Goins said that he expects to increase payouts as the cost of resources increases.

Hill County 911 Coordinator Karin McClendon discussed the concerns of board members and firefighters over the growth in the county. McClendon said that in 2015, 121 floodplain permits were issued in Hill County. She added that the number of permit requests has steadily risen each year since. In 2021, the number of permits issued was 628. McClendon said that some officials are estimating 1,000 for this year. She told the board that so far in 2022, 131 permits have been issued.

Firefighters have also expressed concern that housing developments that have been popping up around the county may not have proper fire suppression in terms of water supply.

Without a fire hydrant to tap into, firefighters would need to truck in water and that could result in increased property loss. McClendon said that those discussions are being held at the county level.

The next regular meeting will be held Thursday, April 21.

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