Rettig: Fire service issue in Canyon Falls

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Northlake Mayor David Rettig

This month I would like to publicly address a situation regarding the relationship between the fire services that serve the Northlake area.

Last month, in a letter to local officials and published in local media, Fire Chief Eric Greaser of Flower Mound brought to the public’s attention a pending decision made by the Emergency Services District #1 board to consolidate fire service for the Canyon Falls community with the Argyle Fire Department and allow the contract with Flower Mound to end. Chief Greaser contended that this decision would result in inferior service to our residents. The Argyle Professional Firefighters Association responded arguing against that conclusion. Regardless of the merit of the individual points, which I have listened to in detail, these differences of opinion have caused significant concern to residents.

In response, let me start by saying that having spoken to members of the ESD board, fire chiefs of both departments, and visited with the firefighters that serve us, I believe we are in good hands. Thank you to both departments for your frank assessments of the situation and the welcome the firefighters offered me when visiting the stations in our area. The board members have collectively several lifetimes of public service in both municipal and fire department management. Both departments are dedicated to excellence, equipped with top-of-the-line equipment and focused on the job they are intended to perform. Simply put, we have neighbors around us who would be missing today if it weren’t for the actions of these dedicated professionals.

That said, the current situation is quite unsettling. Residents need to know that the professionals who serve them will work together without regard for personal or professional differences over service, rivalry, or funding. Residents need to have confidence that the decisions being made on our behalf are clearly advantageous to the public good. Public disputes between professional services undermine the confidence of our residents. While effectiveness is paramount, the public trust must also be maintained.

It is clear to me that the advocacy made by both departments is rooted in a desire to serve effectively. Factors such as distances, speeds, school zones, number of turns, certifications, equipment, staffing, training, backup stations and service area size all matter. However, it is difficult to predict who will be in the best position for any individual scenario between departments with similar capabilities. The reality of our situation is that we do not have full fire and EMS services readily available across Northlake without drawing from Roanoke, Justin, Argyle and Flower Mound fire departments. This requires clearly defined arrangements and funding not just mutual aid. The two primary stations in question, FMFD #6 and AFD #514 only have three-man paramedic engines and neither have medical transport capability. The ability to fully serve our town can only be accomplished by working together.

Recognizing the ESD has jurisdiction over this matter, as the Mayor of Northlake and a resident of Canyon Falls, I ask the board to engage in dialog with our community before making changes like this. Please maintain the current contract with FMFD until a clear case can be presented when and why the responsibility should shift from FMFD to AFD. For instance, the eventual provision of medical transport at AFD station #514 would make for a compelling case for consideration.

In conclusion, I once again thank the services for their efforts while reminding them that our residents need to know and trust who will be there to help when they need it… because on our worst days, we need to know that you all, together, will be at your best.

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