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ESD improving equipment, services

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In anticipation of the new year, we here at the Wills Point Chronicle requested that the leaders of Emergency Services District #4 reflect on their accomplishments in 2018, while also looking ahead at goals for 2019 and beyond.

For Van Zandt County Emergency Services District #4, the new year brought new members, new purpose and new plans for the Wills Point Volunteer Fire Department. The year began with four new board members being sworn in, new goals were set and plans made to reach those goals.

First among the goals was to continue to upgrade the fleet, tools and safety equipment for the firefighters.

Mid-year we saw Engine 1 upgraded to current standards of emergency lighting and decals. Later, a grant allowed the department to add new power tools that are used in times where vehicles have to be cut apart to extricate drivers and passengers.

The “booster” truck received upgrades to the interior, pumps and other equipment to bring it in line with the other apparatus. For the fire fighters who take rotating 12 or 24 hour shifts at the fire station we provided additions to sleeping quarters, internet and television.

The volunteers also rotate shifts on maintaining equipment and safety gear so they are ready to roll on a moment’s notice. That may be the harshest thing on apparatus—there’s no warm up or idle time. When the alarm sounds and the doors go up, trucks go out the door immediately.

On the financial side of things, the board of ESD4 was able to meet state guidelines regarding a contingency fund of at least one year (or more) operating expenses. Further, a building fund is in place to prepare for construction of a new central station or south station. Both of those funds can be used for investments but only in narrowly defined means since they are public funds.

The year came to a close in December with announcement of a large grant from the Texas Forest Service to purchase a “heavy brush truck”— one that can do double duty as a tanker or brush truck. Delivery is expected sometime in spring of 2019. The new apparatus will come fully equipped with tools and accessories and has a price tag of $227,000.00. The grant will pay $200,000.00 of that total.

It’s worth repeating that the entire fire department and the board of Van Zandt County Emergency Services District 4 are volunteers. All property tax revenues, donations or grants may only be used for fire protection and no other purpose.