Emergency Service District No. 6 board members reassured firefighters and the public during their meeting Monday night that they have no plans to close the Forreston fire station or to relocate its equipment.

“As a retired firefighter, I know the importance of protecting life and property,” Bill Watkins said. “I know that living in a rural area our protection is much lower than in the city because we don’t live next to the fire station but we understand that. It is necessary to provide each one of these little fire departments with as much money and equipment as we can to provide this protection.

“Each of the rural fire departments still needs supplies and equipment,” he said. “If for any reason you decide to take that equipment away from a station then you prevent those firefighters from having the equipment to provide adequate protection for those citizens. If you take a fire truck away from that area you are assuming some of those responsibilities for those people’s losses and injuries.”

Board president Wayne Ballard assured residents and firefighters they don’t need to worry because the fire protection they’re receiving isn’t going to stop. Ballard said the board hadn’t even discussed closing the Forreston station or relocating its equipment to ESD No. 6’s fire station. The board has no plans to do so, he said.

The Forreston Volunteer Fire Department, which is a nonprofit organization, was presented with the same contract as last year with ESD No. 6. By state law, ESDs are required to have contracts with participating volunteer departments in the district. Forreston VFD has until Sept. 30 to sign the contract for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

In other business, construction manager Steve Tennell reported that the construction of the new ESD No. 6 fire station is complete with the exception of a few items. One of the items on the punch list is the installation of the department’s radio antenna, which was to be done Tuesday. Tennell said the project came in under budget. The original bid for the project was $299,697 with the final cost at about $279,198.

The board presented Forreston Volunteer Fire Department president Floyd McBride with a contract for his agency’s services that would run from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012. McBride promised to meet with Ballard next week for signing after reviewing the contract.

The board also discussed an exemption for Loyde Junkin of Palmer from a rule that requires volunteers to live within 10 miles from the station where they are volunteering. No motion was made to approve the item leaving the item automatically denied.

The board approved spending $7 more each year per vehicle on the district’s 10 pieces of fire apparatus for a total of $70 that would raise the amount of insurance coverage from $2,500 to $25,000 if a non-firefighter were injured by an apparatus, with the coverage only for medical expenses.

ESD No. 6 administrative chief Jake Escamilla reported that the department has had more repairs done to its equipment due to the increased call volume. Three volunteers with ESD No. 6 were promoted to lieutenant: Patrick Wright, David Bull and Jimmy Mitchell.

The next meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the new fire station for ESD No. 6, located at 1816 Farm-to-Market Road 66 in Waxahachie. A sign off of FM 66 marks the entrance to the station. Residents are encourage to arrive early if they wish to visit with commissioners and firefighters or if they want to fill out a public participation form to speak during the meeting.

For any questions or concerns, contact Ballard at 469-383-0646.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.