West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department Corrects Inaccuracies Regarding ESD 48 Lawsuit

Expresses Concerns Over ESD 48 Waste of Equipment, Taxpayer Dollars

Feb 22, 2016, 12:47 ET from West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department

HOUSTON, Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department (WI-10 VFD) today issued a statement to provide facts about the legal dispute with ESD 48, against which WI-10 VFD has filed suit for breach of contract.

"We have seen numerous inaccuracies regarding our position and what has transpired to date, and the public has a right to know the facts," said Board President Captain Jose Ramirez. "We have served the greater Katy area for 36 years, and our intention is to continue this heritage of service."

ESD 48's actions are an attempt to seize the assets that are legally owned by West I-10 VFD. While WI-10 VFD has existed for 36 years, the non-profit only began receiving reimbursement for services from ESD 48 in 2003. Prior to that, WI-10 VFD received reimbursement for services from RFPD 48. The compensation that WI-10 VFD received from ESD 48 was for fire suppression and EMS services provided under oral and written service agreements with ESD 48. In turn, WI-10 purchased fire apparatus and other equipment with the service agreement funds so that it could fulfill its duties under those agreements and protect the public.

The entities are embroiled in a legal dispute that is expected to go to trial in May 2016. Instead of awaiting the results of this trial, ESD 48 is building a duplicate organization; wasting taxpayer dollars and squandering available existing assets. On August 14, 2015, West I-10 VFD offered to continue services or enter into a mutual aid agreement with ESD 48. ESD board president Marshall Kramer declined outright.

"It is unfortunate that West I-10 VFD-owned equipment is sitting idle as a result of ESD 48's breach of contract," said Ramirez. "We are perplexed why, rather than working with us until the legal matter is resolved in a matter of months, ESD 48 is instead committing millions of taxpayer dollars for duplicative services. The taxpayers need to be asking why ESD 48 decided to take services in house resulting in tremendous public cost when there were no complaints whatsoever with the services provided by West I-10. They will find the answer to be nothing more than politics and an egregious abuse of power by elected officials."

Since breaching its contract with WI-10 VFD, ESD 48 has already committed over $7 million in short and long-term debt. By contrast, WI-10 VFD operated over $1 million under budget over the past few years.

"This is a classic example of a government takeover," said Ramirez. "Any non-profit or business that hears about our situation should consider their own reaction if a government body were to use legal action to seize assets that they worked for decades to build and grow, not to mention the loss of very experienced and highly trained and committed emergency service personnel."

About West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department
For 36 years, the West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department has served the residents and businesses in the 45 square mile area between the energy corridor and Katy, Texas. Over the years, the capabilities expanded from several volunteers to multiple fire stations, advanced fire equipment and emergency medical services staffed by hundreds of individuals, with a continuing focus on well trained and equipped volunteers who want to serve the community.

West I-10 VFD is confident that the its lawsuit against ESD 48 will be successful and West I-10 will resume providing service to the citizens of the Greater Katy area within a few months. Meanwhile, West I-10 VFD continues to be one of the best-trained and equipped fire and emergency response departments in the region. For schools, churches, community groups and other organizations West I-10 VFD offers fire safety and preparation presentations and training, including CPR. West I-10 VFD also continues to offer mutual aid assistance to other fire departments in the area, when an emergency is too much for them to handle alone.

 

SOURCE West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department