Leading up to the transition, the ESD 10 board resigned in early March at the request of Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley after a lawsuit was filed against the ESD and the fire chief at the time by an assistant fire chief, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. MVFD Chief Jeff Hevey was brought on in late February to lead the department as interim chief and was appointed full-time fire chief March 18. In March, the new ESD 10 board voted to begin the process of terminating the ESD’s contract with the MVFD, effective in January.
Kelly Violette, secretary and treasurer of the ESD 10 board, said Nov. 18 there are still many items that need to be addressed before the transition is complete, but she said she is impressed with the progress that has been made so far.
“Right now, I feel like we are in a really, really good spot to be 100% on track for that transition,” Violette said. “From our standpoint, I think it has gone leaps and bounds.”
Hevey said the department will be renamed to the Magnolia Fire Department starting Jan. 1. ESD 10 President Larry Smith said residents might not notice a difference with services in the new year, but he said he believes that is a positive outcome.
“If [residents] didn’t have any complaints and we’re able to do what we do and they still don’t have any complaints, to me that’s a plus,” Smith said.
Violette said residents can expect stability and a professional standard within the organization moving forward.
“It’s a change in culture here,” Violette said. “I think we’re all pretty optimistic about it.”
However, Violette said there is still work to be done after Jan. 1. She said one of her priorities for the ESD is making repairs to facilities that need to be upgraded and establishing a capital investment fund to ensure adequate fire protection in the 175 square miles of the district.
Smith said the ESD is planning to rebuild Station Nos. 186 and 182, both located on FM 2978 on the east side of the Magnolia area. The ESD did not have estimated costs or timelines for the upgrades as of press time.
Hevey, who will continue to lead the department as chief despite the transition, said the department is also continuing to hire firefighters to adequately staff each of the ESD’s nine stations 24 hours a day. He said he expects 20-25 part-time and 20 volunteer firefighting positions to be filled once the applicants complete background checks.
Hevey said he also plans to hire 24 full-time firefighters in 2022 with 12 being hired in the beginning of the year and 12 in the second half of 2022. The department is also looking to hire a training captain and two additional battalion chiefs, Hevey said.
“We’re catching up; we’re not going ahead,” Hevey said.