The Iola and Shiro Volunteer Fire Departments in Grimes County are trying to make response times quicker with a change in fire district lines. But the Anderson Volunteer Fire Department, that also serves that rural area, isn't on board with the proposed change.
It's a proposition that would require a minor change of boundaries.
“It's just a matter of safety,” said Iola Volunteer Fire President Kelli Moore.
Anderson Volunteer Firefighters have a lot of ground to cover in Grimes County. When Anderson and Shiro fire district lines meet, for example, at the busy and dangerous Highway 30 and Highway 90 intersection, both agencies respond.
“Currently Highway 30 is the Anderson district, but Shiro and Iola are closer,” said Moore. “Highway 244 at Highway 30, that's the Carlos intersection and we have the Keith Station which is less than 4 miles from there so that's the one Iola would like within their responding district. And of course when you get to the Valero Store near Roans Prairie, Shiro is just down the road from there so Shiro is looking to take that part of Highway 30.”
Due to that fact, in a meeting earlier this month, the Shiro Volunteer Fire Department requested to change the fire district lines that would make response times in those key areas -- much quicker.
“Shiro and Iola are closer within the north end of the county. Anderson is centrally located within the county, but the outer areas of course, they're not going to be able to respond to those outer areas as quick as Shiro or Iola would,” Moore explained.
According to Iola Volunteer Fire President Kelli Moore -- the only agency that disagrees with the proposal is Anderson; and when it comes to public safety, Moore doesn't understand why Anderson isn't on board. We did try to contact the Anderson Volunteer Fire Department, but our calls were not returned.
“It would not result in any change in funding within the departments; you'll still get the flat money. What will change is the mileage and the hourly reimbursement rate, but if you're not making the call then you're not out that expense, so you don't need that reimbursement,” said Moore.
“It’s a big public safety issue and when you’re a rural fire department you’re looking at over 20 minutes to the time that Anderson is called to the time they actually get to a location,” said Paul Prater, President of the Shiro Volunteer Fire Department. “You’re are already 20 minutes into your golden hour and Shiro is only 10 minutes away, so it only makes sense. Yes, Anderson is centrally located in the county, but every road leading out of Anderson does not go to highway 30. When you look at the golden hour, you’re looking at 20 minutes already gone. “
Each fire department has their own response region within their own district lines.
“And the districts are drawn up basically with an agreement and both fire departments have to agree on where the lines going to be,” said Moore.
For now, that proposal will remain in discussion until all three volunteer fire departments agree to make the change.