Fire departments near Highland Village have asked the Highland Village Fire Department to be more self-reliant concerning assists on mutual aid calls.

Highland Village Fire Chief Jason Collier told Highland Village City Council in a workshop presentation May 23 about how HVFD has implemented some plans to alleviate concerns from the Lewisville and Flower Mound fire departments, which asked HVFD to reduce its reliance on them.

“Last year Flower Mound and Lewisville advised they will no longer be able to send their last ambulance out of town,” Collier said in an email. “In this scenario, if our ambulance is on another call when we receive an EMS call, the response time would be delayed.”

Because of this situation, officials examined the situation and provided some solutions.

What was proposed: Ideas discussed included hiring three full-time employees and three part-time slots—with those part-time slots being 12 hours a day—or hiring people to fill six part-time slots for 12 hours a day per slot. No changes were made at that point, as officials decided to acquire more information before any decisions were made.

Representatives from different departments at the city gathered to come up with ideas to reduce nonemergency calls and call availability, and officials examined the peak emergency medical services call load, which is 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

What’s happened: The fire department is in the process of implementing a power shift for two full-time employees. One employee is already on staff, and the fire department is in the process of interviewing and hiring part-timers. By July at the earliest, the department hopes to hire the second full-time employee. They will work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“That doesn’t quite get us there, but it’s huge,” Collier said.

Additional developments: The department has cut one assistant chief and implemented a part-time fire inspector—working 10-15 hours a week—and has used some public safety officers from the police department for various duties. Public safety officers are civilians who work at the police department who “do a load of work” for the fire department, Collier said. The duties for the assistant chief position will be distributed to other members of the department and the police department’s public safety officers, Collier said.

“The decision to move to one assistant chief instead of two allowed the department to allocate those funds for two new firefighter/paramedics to staff a second medic from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” Collier said in the email. “With the added ambulance from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the department is able to significantly reduce the reliance on Lewisville and Flower Mound for a second medic.”

The new staffing program is being developed as it goes along, Collier said.

“They’re working through this great,” he said about fire department employees. “I think it’s going to be a huge benefit for our city. I think our need for mutual aid is going to drop.”

He said he thinks the department will give more mutual aid than it receives. The city relies on ambulances and engines for mutual aid from other departments. Collier said the process has been a team effort.