Editor: Shannon Cottongame
June 30, 2022
The Hill County Emergency Services District (ESD) 1 Board of Commissioners held its June meeting recently and submitted a draft of a five-year strategic plan to departments for consideration.
Commissioner Bill Heffner drafted the document, which he said will eventually include specific goals that the district and fire departments can work together to achieve.
The draft includes several key initiatives aimed at developing a better trained and better equipped fire and safety program that is capable of supporting the county now and as it grows.
Key initiatives presented to area volunteer fire departments for discussion include:
• Develop a structured organization to accommodate Hill County’s growth and administer a successful fire protection and safety program to begin to implement with Fiscal Year 2023 and subsequent years.
• Establish a sensible service area for each department that may include increases or decreases of coverage areas and possibly site consolidations.
• Develop a comprehensive plan to reallocate ESD/department resources to enhance fire protection coverage within the county.
• Implement fire codes and subdivision requirements that are supportive of Hill County fire programs (which include the following list).
• Establish a fire marshal position that can enforce these codes within the county.
• Create a system in support of Hill County residents for fire suppression during daylight hours. (This may require creation of some paid firefighter positions in the out years as funding can be obtained.)
• Institute a comprehensive training program to develop a cadre of trained firefighting professionals.
• Improve relationship and coordination between ESD 1 and ESD 2 in Hill County. This is critical since we both serve the same client base.
• Create a burn ban policy with Hill County officials that can be enforced Hill County wide with law enforcement assistance.
• Study and review the need for common use areas on both sides of Interstate 35 to determine if they are warranted and feasible.
• If the study finds that they are feasible, secure funding. These common use areas can be collocated with ESD departments on each side of I-35. They could include oxygen air compressors, bunker gear washing stations, etc.
Heffner pointed out that the working document is just a draft, and said that input and suggestions are needed from firefighters.
The board also heard a report on the district’s financial audit from auditor William Sanders, who said that ESD 1’s finances are in good shape.
The board also discussed a request from White Bluff Volunteer Fire Department for redistricting to expand its coverage area. The proposal is expected to be back before the board next month after a map is drawn up outlining boundaries.
The board’s next meeting will be Thursday, July 21, at 6:30 p.m.