VFDs expand fire protection services outside Pleasanton city limits



Atascosa County Fire Marshal Roger Garcia addresses the Jourdanton, Poteet, Leming and Campbellton VFDs on Dec. 2 about expanding their fire protection services around the City of Pleasanton. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Atascosa County Fire Marshal Roger Garcia addresses the Jourdanton, Poteet, Leming and Campbellton VFDs on Dec. 2 about expanding their fire protection services around the City of Pleasanton. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Minutes matter when it comes to responding to a fire, especially for those who live outside of city limits in Atascosa County. For Pleasanton residents who reside in these areas, they will now have to wait just a little bit longer for the nearest primary fire department to respond— Jourdanton, Poteet, Leming or Campbellton/Paisano VFD.

At their Nov. 22 meeting, Commissioners Court unanimously voted to not renew their contract with the City of Pleasanton for fire protection services after the two entities failed to come to an agreement on their 2022 contract. Pleasanton FD requested an additional $15,000 for their contract, which would put them at a total of $47,000.

“There’s no data to show a need for increased pay. All our departments work just as hard as they do, and just because they’re a paid department now doesn’t mean that they deserve extra money in our eyes. Our guys work just as hard,” said Roger Garcia, County Fire Marshal.

Atascosa County offered the City of Pleasanton their contract at $32,000— the highest amount offered to the busiest VFDs in the county and the same amount that Pleasanton accepted last year. The city rejected the offer, and the contract was taken back to the county.

Jourdanton Fire Chief Jay Fojtik, Britni Van Curan of Atascosa County 911 Addressing Office, Poteet volunteer firefighter Pierre Andersson, Poteet Fire Chief Curtis Adams and County Fire Marshal Roger Garcia analyze the tentative map for county fire protection services around the City of Pleasanton. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Jourdanton Fire Chief Jay Fojtik, Britni Van Curan of Atascosa County 911 Addressing Office, Poteet volunteer firefighter Pierre Andersson, Poteet Fire Chief Curtis Adams and County Fire Marshal Roger Garcia analyze the tentative map for county fire protection services around the City of Pleasanton. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Commissioners Court, County Judge Bob Hurley, Garcia and local VFD fire chiefs agreed they could handle covering the areas themselves and denied the contract. The money would be dispersed amongst the four departments now taking over the new unprotected district.

Garcia explained that Pleasanton FD was immediately taken off 911 dispatch as a primary response for calls outside Pleasanton city limits as they are no longer being paid by the county.

“Dispatch will now tone out first to either Jourdanton, Poteet, Leming or Campbellton, depending on the location of the call. So, although Pleasanton might be closer, since we are not contracted with them anymore, they will not be toned out first unless it’s within their city limits,” said Garcia.

The above map details the City of Pleasanton boundaries with a breakdown of City Council Districts. For an easier to read map, please visit www.pleasantontx.gov/government/council.php. Scroll down and click on the link that says “City of Pleasanton Interactive Map.” CITY OF PLEASANTON WEBSITE

The above map details the City of Pleasanton boundaries with a breakdown of City Council Districts. For an easier to read map, please visit www.pleasantontx.gov/government/council.php. Scroll down and click on the link that says “City of Pleasanton Interactive Map.” CITY OF PLEASANTON WEBSITE

For example, those who live in the Deer Run area—although they have a Pleasanton address—will now be covered by Jourdanton VFD as it is not within Pleasanton city limits. Other areas affected include those who live on Parsons Road off Hwy 97 East, Coughran Road just past San Ysidro Cemetery and even a few areas within District 1 and 3 that are not considered within city limits.

The Pleasanton Express has reached out to Pleasanton Fire Chief Mario Escobedo and the City of Pleasanton for comment, but as of press time, did not receive a response.

For a detailed map of areas considered inside and outside the City of Pleasanton, please visit www.pleasantontx.gov/ government/council.php. Scroll down and click on the link that says “City of Pleasanton Interactive Map.” You can also see individual maps of each city council district. City council members representing each district are Robert Leonhardt for District 1, Kenneth Hernandez for District 2, Diana Prasifka for District 3, JR Gallegos for District 4, Lillian Cashmer for District 5 and Jeanne Israel for District 6.

Expanding county fire coverage

On Dec. 2, Garcia met with Jourdanton Fire Chief Jay Fojtik, Poteet Fire Chief Curtis Adams, Leming Fire Chief Loren Gillespie and Campbellton/Paisano Fire Chief Chris Llamas to discuss expanding their fire coverage districts outside the Pleasanton city limits. The four departments are splitting a total of 109,000 acres of county property for fire coverage which include major roadways such as Hwy. 281, Hwy. 97 and I-37.

“It’s a lot of land, but we have a duty to this community for fire protection,” said Garcia.

Also in attendance were Dispatch Supervisor Elaine Pacheco with the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, Pct. 1 Commissioner Mark Gillespie, Pct. 4 Commissioner Kennard Riley, Texas DPS Sgt. Robert Bratten, Britni Van Curan with County 911 Addressing and Assistant County Emergency Manager Jeanie Alvarez.

“Everybody in this room has a hand in this one way or another. It’s good to understand each other’s job to make things go a lot smoother,” said Garcia.

After a long discussion, the fire chiefs created a trial map their departments would test out for the remainder of this month. At their January meeting, they will finalize the map and sign updated contracts with Atascosa County where the $32,000 will be split amongst the VFDs according to mileage of the areas covered.

Commissioners Court will discuss their Regional Mutual Aid Agreement with AACOG at their Dec. 13 meeting as it pertains to fire suppression in the county and City of Pleasanton.

According to Judge Hurley, the county could receive extra funding for their fire protection services in their expanded district in Pleasanton. Paragraph 9 of their contract states that if the county exceeds 12 hours of response time, they can request funds from AACOG.

“This would have happened at the tire fire on Verdi Road back in March. AACOG would have paid us had we requested it. However, we did not know about this before now. So, our contract is being reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office, and we will discuss it at our next regular meeting,” said Judge Hurley.

Commissioner Gillespie commended the VFDs for their hard work in creating a tentative map. He further explained to Commissioners Court on how this expansion of coverage allows for the VFDs to seek more volunteers from these areas.

“With the way it is now, they can come into these new areas and bring in new members. I will speak on behalf of my brother, [Leming Fire Chief Loren Gillespie]. Now that Leming is in this part of Pleasanton, he can take in the old Pleasanton VFD members and he’s talking about putting in a new substation northeast of Pleasanton,” said Gillespie. “I was really impressed with the way the fire chiefs and volunteers worked very well together. While the extra money is good, they are not worried about it. They just want to provide services for our citizens.”

The Pleasanton Express will continue to report on this story.

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