City of Whitehouse creates fire department, hires Fire Chief
WHITEHOUSE — The City of Whitehouse will soon be getting their very own municipal fire department.
The decision was made Tuesday night during the Whitehouse City Council meeting.
Whitehouse City Manager, Mike Peterson, tells KETK that the city is currently covered by the Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Company, but the deparment is not part of the city of Whitehouse.
The department mainly serves the Smith County Emergency Services District.
In fact, Peterson says, 60-70% of the calls made to the volunteer department are outside the city limits.
"We've been talking about doing this for five years. The city has grown so much," he says, "we need our own department."
The current volunteer department will still service the ESD, and will be in place as a back-up and for mutual aid should the Municipal Department need assistance.
The city's contract with the current Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Company expires at the end of September. Until that time, the city will be organizing their new municipal fire department and hiring both certified and trained firefighters as well as volunteer firefighters.
The position of Fire Chief was given to John Hargis on Wednesday, August 1st.
A former Longview firefighter, Hargis has been certified since 1998. He has also been a resident of Whitehouse for 22 years, and a member of the current Whitehouse Voluntary Fire Company for most of that time.
The city is currently accepting applications for anyone wishing to become a member of the Whitehouse Municipal Volunteer Fire Unit. Applications can be downloaded by clicking HERE, or can be picked up at City Hall. The goal is to have at least two firefighters available 24/7.
Officials with the City of Whitehouse say they want to provide "the best fire protection possible at an affordable cost to all citizens within the district."
There will be no proposed tax increase to the citizens of Whitehouse, or of ESD #2, and the City promises to be transparent and accountable with the citizens' tax dollars.
The new Municipal Department will establish both a short and long term plan during their budget process.