County volunteer firefighter contracts terminated, no known plan in place to serve communities

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The county’s Emergency Services Department Board unanimously motioned to end its contracts with volunteer fire departments that protect a large chunk of El Paso County Tuesday night, leaving many firefighters worried for their futures.

Six El Paso area fire departments say they were given a 90-day notice that the county is looking at terminating their contracts and with no plan in place that they’re aware of, the firefighters worry what this means for the communities they serve.

The emergency services district two includes the communities of San Elizario, Fabens, Clint, Montana Vista, Socorro, Anthony, and Vinton.

The volunteer departments are hoping for an open and fair discussion with the emergency services board attorney, according to Lisa Soto, the attorney representing the volunteer fire departments. Unfortunately, the emergency services board attorney is based in Austin and wasn’t present at Tuesday’s meeting.

KTSM spoke with the West Valley Volunteer Fire Chief Bill Adler who says the majority of his staff is made up of volunteers who respond to medical, fire, and rescue calls.

“We’ve been working under the same contract for approximately seven years it gets renewed every year and every year, this is a separate contract completely that will define how the volunteers can respond, and I don’t know, if it’s not renewed I don’t know what the consequences are going to be other than the volunteers aren’t going to be able to provide that service,” said Chief Adler.

The emergency services board says it’s not their intention to terminate services to the county but did not elaborate on any potential replacement for the volunteer departments.

The volunteer departments say they hope they’re able to negotiate an agreement over the next 90-days with attorneys from both sides present.

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