Editor's note: This article was updated to add information about the cost of transferring KVFD employees to ESD 16.

Over the next two months, employees with the Klein Volunteer Fire Department will be transferred to Harris County Emergency Services District No. 16, district officials told Community Impact Newspaper on May 3. According to Rich Jones, ESD 16 commissioner and president, the move is the next step in the process of the district taking over services for the 52-square-mile area.

Currently, ESD 16 contracts out fire suppression, prevention and education; emergency medical response; and hazardous materials response services to KVFD. According to Jones, ESD 16 and KVFD have been working on this transition for the past two years. As part of this transition process, about 200 employees with KVFD will be transferred to ESD 16’s payroll this summer, should they choose to accept the job offers.

According to Jones, the move will allow KVFD employees to receive more employment benefits, such as retirement benefits, while also making it easier to find and keep employees.

“We recognize change is something you have to do delicately,” Jones said. “We wanted to do this slowly ... so that we wouldn’t lose any of our volunteers.”

According to Jones, the transition will not cause an increase in taxes as ESD 16's tax rate is capped at $0.05 per $100 of assessed value. ESD 16's budget already pays for the payroll of KVFD, and ESD 16 expects money to be saved by the merger since the departments' administrative departments will be combined.

"Moving the employees and volunteers over to work for ESD 16 will only change the name on their paycheck from 'Klein Volunteer Fire Dept.' to 'HC ESD 16,'" Jones said in a May 5 email to Community Impact Newspaper.

Currently, KVFD serves about 150,000 individuals in the Klein community. Jones said ESD 16 recognizes the trusted reputation KVFD has built over the years and that ESD 16 plans to use the KVFD name alongside ESD 16’s on district vehicles.

“The community will benefit from this, I’m sure,” he said.

Following the employee transfer, Jones said KVFD will no longer be eligible for the same funding it previously received through tax dollars as it will no longer be providing firefighting services. KVFD’s board has not yet determined what will happen to the department after the employee transition is complete.

KVFD did not respond to requests for comment as of press time on May 4.