Following an 18-month dispute over millions of dollars’ worth of fire engines and bunker gear, Harris County Emergency Services District 48 and West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department announced March 10 that the parties have reached a settlement.
The dispute began in August 2015 when ESD 48 began providing its own emergency response services rather than contracting with West I-10 for their volunteer labor. West I-10 personnel seized helmets, personal protective equipment, bunker gear and vehicles, which remained in a storage facility for several months.
According to legal documents, West I-10 VFD board members maintained they owned all fire and emergency assets per a contract with ESD 48, and although they have continued a public outreach program, they have not responded to a service call since August 2015.
“As part of the agreement, West I-10 VFD and HCESD 48 agreed to a monetary settlement for outstanding invoices and equitable transition of all disputed vehicles and assets,” ESD 48 public information officer Simon VanDyk said in a press release issued in mid-March. “West I-10 VFD will keep two fire trucks, a number of command vehicles, a safety trailer, and sufficient firefighting gear to outfit their current members. HCESD 48 will receive various fire trucks, including trucks, ambulances, command and support vehicles, firefighting equipment and the remaining firefighting gear not allocated to West I-10 VFD.”