As the newly appointed fire chief of Flower Mound, Eric Greaser has some big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Eric Metzger, served the town for 28 years, 22 of them as chief.
In all those years, I never heard a word of criticism as he handled fire safety for a burgeoning town whose population went from about 15,000 when he became chief, to about 68,000 today. With our most sincere gratitude for the untold number of lives he’s responsible for saving, we wish Chief Metzger a very happy, well-earned retirement.
Whenever a replacement is made for such a sensitive position, one that deals with protecting human life, it’s vitally important to find someone who’s equally qualified. Everything I’ve learned from my interview of Eric Greaser tells me that the town chose wisely.
Fighting fires since 1991, Greaser began as a volunteer in Pantego, Texas, a small Tarrant County town. “We shared firefighting duties with Arlington, Texas, were I grew up,” he said. He studied and became a paramedic, then applied to the Coppell Fire Dept. and began his professional career with them in 1994. After 20 years of admirable service he recently retired as Deputy Chief and will officially take his current position on August 4.
Married with 2 children, Eric lives in Coppell, just a short drive from his new office in our town. “A modern fire chief today needs to know about emergency medical treatment,” he said, adding, “The amount of times we use these skills may be rare, but knowing how to manage and oversee in such situations is extremely important.”
He went on to say that our town encompasses fire and emergency services which involve delivery and patient care transport. “There are a lot of departments that don’t have that, like Arlington and Fort Worth; they contract that out. EMS is vital and I wouldn’t want to work for a department that didn’t have that,” the chief said.
He acquired his EMT training at Methodist Hospital in Dallas. “I attended a hospital-based course and did my internship there and with the Dallas Fire Department, on their ambulances.” The type of aid the chief is capable of delivering goes from CPR to administering IV’s, EKG’s and intubation (insertion of a breathing tube into the trachea for mechanical ventilation). “I may not be starting IV’s every day, but I take continuing education courses to maintain my skills,” he said proudly. In addition to their primary job of fire extinguishing and rescue operations, these men and women are often needed at the scene of vehicle accidents in which severe bleeding and broken bones are part of the life-saving mission.
Moreover, according to Greaser, there is greater demand these days for transport services to nursing home facilities as the number of beds increase. Chief Greaser stressed the need for people to learn CPR techniques. “If people would only learn how to do compressions (rhythmic downward pressure on the chest) until Advanced Life Support (ALS) arrives, the survival rate would be huge,” he said. “You can Google ‘American Heart Association’s 5 Minutes Hands On’ to learn how important those first few minutes are. If you can keep the oxygen circulating until help arrives; you’ve probably saved a life.”
Flower Mound has 90-plus firefighters, one of whom is a woman. They operate out of FIVE fire stations with a sixth station coming soon in the Canyon Falls area, currently under development. Fire personnel work shifts of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off, which provides around the clock protection for the town.
The largest piece of equipment, which is stationed in Bridlewood, is their ladder-truck, an 80,000 pound, double axle giant, capable of getting to the roof of a building and opening it to allow the smoke out. “This changes everything for a firefighter because, if you can get that structure ventilated, they can find their way around to get to the scene of where the fire started.”
Ladder trucks only carry about 300 gallons of water, compared to engine trucks, which carry 750. Engines, which are on hand at every station, typically carry water, hoses and pumps. They can hook up to hydrants and increase the pressure as needed. Extra hose length is important because of homes with considerable setbacks.
“A standard response on a structure fire, residential or commercial, is three engines, one ladder truck, two medics and a chief officer (Battalion Chief),” Greaser said. “The national fire protection standard is to get 25 fighters on the scene of a working fire. If you determine that is not enough, you strike for a second alarm. Typically, that brings in three more engines, another ladder truck and another chief officer. So, you’re talking about 14 more personnel at a second alarm,” he added. If needed, further alarms can be requested from other nearby areas. FMFD also assists Lantana, Double Oak, Argyle and other surrounding communities with limited capacity.
Incidentally, the chief talked about fighting fires in the summer, when temperatures are in triple digits. “Heat, like today, a firefighter, wearing full gear, breathing off the bottle (oxygen tank) is good for about a 20-25 minute cycle. Even if we think we have a handle on it, I have to think ahead because the second alarm team may be coming from Lewisville, Grapevine, or possibly Coppell.”
After spending some time with Eric I found him to be enthusiastic about his new position and more than competent to handle every aspect of it. His medical training, mixed with his many years of experience in the field and at the command level, should make every resident feel secure about their safety and security going forward. Kudos to Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos and the Town Council for the research they put into making this excellent choice!
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.