Full-time fire department in Pecos in voters' hands

PECOS, Tx (KOSA) -- For the last several years, the fire station in downtown Pecos has been used for storage, not firefighting. However, in the upcoming May 4 election, residents could approve a new full-time fire department and EMS service to support the booming population.

“It’s outgrown our volunteer fire department,” City Manager Seth Sorensen said. “Our ambulance services are covering much more than they have previously. In some cases our calls have as much as doubled or tripled.”

At volunteer departments like the one in Pecos, first responders may have to leave their day job and come to the station, before responding to an emergency.

“Don’t get me wrong, the volunteers do an excellent job,” resident Cynthia Goldston said. “They go above and beyond. They don’t have to do it. They choose to. My hat goes off to them, but we need a full-time [fire department].”

The full-time staff would not just be in Pecos. Sub-stations would be set up in surrounding communities like Barstow, Toyah and Orla.

“Having someone in each of these remote locations who can be there almost immediately automatically cuts down on half that travel time,” Sorensen said.

Service will also be provided to oil and gas companies, whose employees could experience a number of emergencies while working in the middle of nowhere.

“I know how long it takes me to get out there to where I’m working,” Tanner Allen said. “From [Pecos] it’s an hour drive easily, down FM 2119. Road conditions are not good. So it would be a long time for the volunteer department to respond.”

A potential concern for voters is paying the emergency services fee.
“Although it is an additional tax most people will see,” Sorensen said, “We feel that it’s going to be very minimal, and it will probably be offset. But the benefits are astronomical.”

Sorensen said the project will take several years to complete, but when it is finished it will employ about 70 people.