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Hopkins County Commissioners Court Approves Fire Investigation And Protection Agreements

Emergency Management Coordinator Approved For 3 Cities

Hopkins County Commissioners Court during their regular meeting this week approved at least five items related to emergency management, fire and safety.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court

Appointment, Agreements With Cities

The court officially appointed Hopkins County emergency management coordinator to serve as not just the emergency management coordinator for all unincorporated areas of Hopkins County but also for the City of Como, City of Cumby and City of Tira. The mayors of each city will have roles in the event an emergency situation arises. Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley as the county’s emergency management coordinator or designated county emergency management staff will function as the emergency management coordinator for the three cities as well..

Endsley explained that he, as the county’s emergency management coordinator, has been serving in this capacity. This would allow him to officially continue in this capacity, serving all areas of the county except the City of Sulphur Springs, which has its own emergency management officials. This information will be listed in emergency management plans filed with Texas Department of Emergency Management.

Fire investigation agreements with the City of Como, City of Cumby and City or Tira were also approved by the Commissioners Court at the Jan. 27 session. Having the investigations in place will allow the HCFD marshal’s office to conduct fire investigations in those cities, which do not have their own fire marshals.

“This really helps out from a legal aspect say if a case goes to court and it allows the fire marshal to go in when there’s a fire and investigate,” said Endsley. “The City of Sulphur Springs has their own investigators.”

Volunteer Fire Departments

The final fire protection agreement, with Arbala Volunteer Fire Department, was approved Monday, Jan. 27, just four days shy of the deadline.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court required all volunteer fire departments in Hopkins County to sign a fire protection agreement in order to receive benefits from the county. According to the county judge, under the fire protection agreement, the county agrees to do the following for each volunteer fire department:

  • pay the VFD’s fuel bills;
  • provide a monthly stipend which averages over $700 a month;
  • provide workers compensation for each member, in the event any are injured while responding to calls; and
  • offers to reimbursement for vehicle insurance.

Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom noted that the level of support offered to the VFDs is higher than he’s aware of it ever being in the past. The county over the last few years has continued to increase the level of support provided to the VFDs. Costs of all fuel and vehicle and vehicle insurance reimbursements were benefits added over in the last couple of years for the volunteer departments. The monthly stipend each VFD receives was also increased this year by 10 percent.

Additional funding volunteer fire departments can apply for is the VFD emergency equipment fund, that is $10,000 designated annually to assist VFDs with emergency need of equipment repairs or replacements. The department can request funding, which would be awarded based on the vote of the VFD chiefs. That funding is then paid back by the borrowing VFD over an agreed-upon period of time in small increments. Only a total of $10,000 is designated in this fund per year.

For instance, Brinker VFD a few years back was approved for an emergency loan, approved by the other VFD chiefs, so the department’s engine could receive repairs critical for operations. Brinker VFD made regular payments over the ensuring years as agreed. Brinker recently finished paying off the amount borrow from the emergency fund.

Regional Grant

The Commissioners Court also approved a resolution to apply for Fiscal Year 2020 State Homeland Security Program Grant funds to put toward a Hopkins County Regional Communications Trailer Project.

Hopkins County Fire Chief Andy Endsley

Endsley said the county can apply for this type of funding annually. In the past, the county has collaborated to obtain law enforcement equipment. This time, the request would be for Hopkins County for a communications trailer, but would be available to help other entities in the nine county region if needed

“It’s for a trailer that we’re building. It will be regional because our neighbor helped us in our need, when we had our fuel spill out at Turkey Creek, from Franklin County. We’re building our on trailer. We’ll purchase six mobile radios to go inside that trailer. It will help with our communications needs in case of a large event,” Endsley told the commissioners.

The funding would require no match from the county for the project. However, a resolution from the Commissioners Court is required to apply for the grant, Endsley said.

Endsley said much of the $20,000 Community Assistance Grant awarded in October by Sabine River Authority to the county to help the county replenish supplies and buy new equipment following the Turkey Creek fuel spill needed to help in the future are dedicated to the trailer, outfitting the trailer.

Miscellaneous

The Commissioners Court also accepted Smoke Eaters BBQ & Catering and The Rustic O‘s donation of a Task Force Tip hose nozzle for the Hopkins County Fire Department. The nozzle has an approximate value of $800, according to Endsley.

“It’s always great when people give you things you can use,” Newsom said.

Also approved by the Commissioners Court at the Jan. 27 meeting were:

  • A one-year agricultural lease agreement between the City of Sulphur Springs and Precinct 2 for access to a sand pit for $2 a year;
  • Requests from FEC to construct electric power distribution facilities that will cross County Roads 3518, 1178, 1127 and 1181; and
  • A line item transfer of $50,000 from the Precinct 1 machinery and equipment into the lease line to pay off a piece of equipment purchased for Precinct 1.
Hopkins County Courthouse, 118 Church St., Sulphur Springs, Texas

Author: Faith Huffman

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