Mineral Wells Area News

FEMA Coordinator Says County has to deal with water issue to prevent fire danger with influx of subdivisions; Commissioner Court Meeting Highlights

FEMA Coordinator Says County has to deal with water issue to prevent fire danger with influx of subdivisions; Commissioner Court Meeting Highlights
March 01
10:46 2022

Mistie Garland addressed county commissioners at the final February meeting to give her monthly report and said the biggest issue her department is facing right now are the increase in fire calls.

Garland says in her 6 to 7 years as the Palo Pinto FEMA coordinator, she’s never seen such in influx in fire calls. This last month they had an increase of 31 calls.

“I’ve never seen us have 75 fire calls in one month,” said Garland. “What we are running into are water issues. That seems to be the problem.”

Garland said she is concerned as the growth in subdivisions across the county increases but access to water is still very limited. She told the court about a home that recently burned in the upscale neighborhood known as The Ranch at Possum Kingdom Lake.

“The turn around time to getting water into there was about 40 to 45 minutes because there are no hydrants. There are just tenders.”

Tenders are fire fighting vehicles that have water storage tanks on them that hold on average 3000 gallons. Once the water is depleted, the tender has to go somewhere to be refilled. According to County Judge Shane Long, the average water needed to battle a structure is about 30,000 thousand gallons.

“If you’ve got even a 15 minute turn around on getting water, that can make you or break you on a fire,” said County Judge Shane Long.

Long deferred to County Fire Chief Gary Lee about the importance of getting water to a fire rapidly.

“A fire usually doubles in size every minute,” said Chief Lee.

The house at The Ranch was a total loss.

Recently, two large blazes known as the Panama Fire and Roach Ranch Fire were battled in Palo Pinto County and caused some equipment loss as well as scorched close to 1000 acres of land.

Garland told the court that the county has a few trucks down now and lost one completely in the Roach Ranch Fire. “Between the Panama Fire and the Roach Ranch Fire, we’ve had to have four trucks towed,” she said.

Garland did say they are getting an emergency grant from Texas Forestr Services to replace the truck that was lost in the fire.

“I do think we need to look at moving forward, as more subdivisions come in, I think we need to change our subdivison regs to reflect the same as the RV parks and they need either hydrants or some kind of water storage onsite,” suggested Garland.

The county passed regulations last year requiring RV facilities to have water storage in place before they can operate as a safety measure placed on developers to keep communities safer from fire tragedies.

“As we have more people building, more subdivisions going in, it’s just taking a toll on what resources we do have,” Garland said.

There was some discussion about making a requirement for new subdivisions to have water storage facilities onsite so they have water resources in case of an emergency. One commissioner even suggested requiring new developers to purchase a tender truck to protect new subdivisions. Garland suggested making them be “FireWise” communities which puts parameters and requirements in place to help neighborhoods be prepared for fire emergencies.

Judge Long agreed its an issue the county really needs to start looking into. No action was taken on the issue at this time.

Other Commissioners’s Court Highlights

  • County Burn Ban is still on
  • December Sales Tax: Increase of $26,893.03 for a total $199,033.90. 15.62 percent increase over last year
  • 1st Quarter Current Fiscal Year Tax Revenue is up almost 20 percent
  • Commissioner’s approved integration with Net Data for E-file in County and District Clerk’s offices; asked the cost for all JP’s to be integrated as well
  • Petey’s RV Resort has received final approval to operate at Possum Kingdom pending a final inspection this week
  • New staff position for County Tax Assessor was not approved at this time because the position was contingent on a need for the job in the new county annex building but the move to that location has been delayed
  • New County Annex building move in date is May 1

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