For the first time in its history, Hardin Fire and Rescue is shifting from a volunteer fire chief to a salaried fire chief position. The unanimous decision to hire a full-time fire chief was made late last week by the five-person Emergency Services District No. 7 board, which oversees the Hardin fire station.
“With all the things going on and all the things we need to do, the time has come,” said ESD No. 7 President Klint Bush. “The station already has two part-time paid firefighters and the chief position will be our third. We need someone who can commit full-time to the department and be on call 24/7.”
The decision in no way reflects negatively on the volunteer members who have led the department, Bush said.
“Over the years, the Texas Legislature has made ESDs more accountable to the public. There is a lot that goes into running an ESD. Now that we have ambulances housed at our station full-time, we need an administrator there as well to make sure that everything is going well for the district,” he said.
Some of the top priorities established by the ESD board for the fire chief are overseeing construction of a new fire station in Moss Hill, purchasing a new fire engine and working with Hardin ISD to get a junior fire department in operation.
The new position comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, according to Bush.
“People are going to be concerned that we are raising taxes and we aren’t. We are doing all of this while also lowering property taxes,” he said.
In 2019, the ESD board approved a $15,000 homestead exemption for property owners within the district. They were able to do this because of a one-cent sales tax increase approved by voters to fund future ESD projects, such as the future Moss Hill fire station. That station will be built on land donated to the ESD by Bill Wingfield, owner of Maci Feed and Wingfield Construction.
Two of the top requirements of the fire chief are that he or she work at least 32 hours per week within the district and be certified with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
Applications will be accepted until Jan. 7. Then interviews will be scheduled with applicants who meet the requirements.
“I think we will have a lot of good applicants from the area. We have a lot of firefighters who live in the community who work as full-time firefighters in neighboring cities,” Bush said. “Having a full-time chief will be a benefit to the citizens. There are no negatives.”
The fire chief will be paid a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience.
Interested persons should apply by going online to www.lcesd7.org. After downloading and completing the application packet and attaching the required documents, the packet should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Liberty County ESD No. 7, P.O. Box 237, Hardin, Texas, 77561.