Flower Mound Fire Chief Eric Greaser wrote the following letter to the Denton County Emergency Services District No. 1 as it relates to a potential ending of the Flower Mound Fire Department's contracted services to the Northlake portion of Canyon Falls:
Dear Board Members:
As Fire Chief of Flower Mound Fire & Emergency Services and sitting president of the Denton County Fire Chiefs Association, I respectfully wish to provide a statement to each of you. As you know, the town of Flower Mound has provided extensive services to Denton County ESD #1 through both mutual aid assistance and specific contracted services. It is my understanding that the goal of this ESD is to provide funding for services via equipment, facilities and contracts to assure services to the citizens of the district. The Argyle Fire District along with the cities of Roanoke and Justin and the town of Flower Mound are the ESD’s contracted service providers.
In October of 2016, the town of Flower Mound entered into a legal contractual agreement to provide availability at all times of a Paramedic Engine company staffed by a minimum of three firefighters to areas within the ESD district to include of I-35W, Northwest Regional Airport and the residential development Canyon Falls. This agreement was to assure that services would be provided by the closest fire station, and most importantly so that fire apparatus did not pass a closer fire station en route to emergency calls, thus delaying services.
In July of 2018, an abrupt and non-collaborative decision was made by the ESD, followed by a letter to the Flower Mound Mayor to cancel agreements between the ESD and the town of Flower Mound. After further review and data analysis, a joint decision was made to reduce the service area of the Flower Mound contract in return for a significant reduction in the financial obligation from the ESD.
On July 3, 2019, another abrupt and non-collaborative decision was made by the ESD. Flower Mound Town Manager, Jimmy Stathatos, was verbally notified by the ESD Board President, Jim Carter, of ESD’s intent to cancel the agreement.
We have acknowledged and worked with the significant lack of the ESD’s ability to obtain the National Fire Protection Association Standard (NFPA) 1710 staffing requirements, which specifically calls for a minimum of fifteen firefighters on the initial structure fire assignment. This inability of the ESD to staff at the NFPA standard places not only citizens at risk but greatly increases the risk to firefighters while engaged in suppression activities. This deficit also places the surrounding region in frequent situations of having to accept mutual aid requests to provide responses to routine fires and other emergency calls within the ESD. It must be noted this problem is now greater than it was in 2016 as the ESD approved an option to contract with the city of Denton to take on an even greater response area, the Robson Ranch subdivision. The Robson Ranch agreement now pulls the newly created Engine 514 further away and outside of the Denton County ESD #1 district. With Engine 514 at minimum staffing with three qualified firefighters, this leaves the remaining available staffing of the Argyle Fire District consistently at four. These four are left to staff Engine 511, Engine 513 and a medic transport ambulance. The published daytime staffing model of ten total firefighters is not consistent and cannot be assumed or relied upon by the district or the region.
Eliminating the existing contract agreement with the town of Flower Mound will, without question, increase response times to the citizens of Northlake located in Canyon Falls. It should be noted the recent opening of the ESD Fire Station 514 does not position the response apparatus closer to the homes located in Canyon Falls. The road miles to any of these Northlake homes will be increased when assigned to any other available fire station response other than Flower Mound Station 6. The longer response times translate to risk to citizens, property and firefighters.
An adopted concept of the ESD to exclusively utilize the Argyle Fire District housed within the ESD’s stations for any service areas inside of five road miles vs other available contract providers including Roanoke, Justin and Flower Mound has been articulated. This concept, when applied to areas within Canyon Falls, will increase response times and/or at times require an Argyle Fire District apparatus to travel past a Flower Mound fire station when responding to emergency calls for service. Most concerning to the Flower Mound Fire Department is an acceptance of this known response delay to the citizens by the ESD. The goal of any service provider and an expectation of the public served should always be that the closest available apparatus will respond to the emergency. This concept fails to take this into account and accepts an antiquated and flawed methodology.
Has the board taken an official vote to accept this concept and/or the termination of Flower Mound’s contracted services?
Per the existing agreement between Denton County ESD #1 and the Town of Flower Mound, “Not less than sixty (60) days before the expiration of the term of this Agreement, the TOWN and the DISTRICT will meet to discuss the Designated Areas and the services to be provided for the following year and to prepare an anticipated budget for the provision of Fire Services and EMS Services to the Designated Areas for the following fiscal year”. This meeting has not been extended to Flower Mound specifically.
The Flower Mound Fire & Emergency Services recognizes the region is growing and cooperative and contractual providing of services is required to assure responsive emergency service delivery. The need to protect the citizens of Denton County is a top priority for all providers within the county followed closely by assuring the best conditions and safety measures for our firefighters. I respectfully ask you take each of these points into your consideration as we move forward together in the region.