An agreement between the City of Borger and Carson County for fire protection has received official approval.
During a special session held Wednesday afternoon, action on the agreement was approved by the Borger City Council.
Eddie Edwards, Borger City Manager, said the agreement has been in the works for some time. He said the Borger Fire Department has been responding to fires in the northern part of Carson County as long as he can remember.
In effect, he said this means the department has been entering another jurisdiction without permission. This agreement establishes the prior permission and the liability issues associated with that response.
“We’re not wanting to become the fire department for the south border of Carson County,” Edwards said. “It’s really geared toward our ability to respond into Carson County in hopes of starting a fire before it gets into our city limits. It’s a defensive measure rather than an offensive measure.”
He said he, Emergency Management Director Danny Richards, and Borger Fire Chief Bob Watson have met with the Carson County judge, sheriff, and EOC coordinator, who requested minor changes. The Carson County attorney also requested minor changes.
Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Vinyard expressed his opposition to the agreement. He said the agreement has been discussed at length, and everyone has their own opinions about it.
“I do not support this,” he said. “I understand the essence of what is trying to be done. But Hutchinson County pays $32,000 to the City of Borger for fire suppression. And now we’re asking taxpayers to foot the bill for us to go into Carson County and fight their fires for free.”
He said he couldn’t imagine why Carson County would not support this agreement, because all they have to do is sit at home. Vinyard said it may seem benign right now, but he said he fears this issue will grow bigger and larger.
Vinyard motioned for the agreement to not be approved, but the motion died for lack of a second. Council member Charles Gillingham motioned for the agreement to be approved.
Council member Bubba Dickson said he has visited with people who live in the Carson County area. He said they expressed their opinions and how much they have appreciated the efforts of the Borger Fire Department.
“I’ve done some serious thinking about it and have had people approach me in this last week,” Dickson said. “I’ve thought about it and looked at the situation.”
After offering his comments, he seconded Gillingham’s motion.
To address Vinyard’s concerns, Mayor Jeff Brain said there will be semi-annual and annual review of the agreement to ensure that the City of Borger is not providing free fire service to Carson County.
Council members attending the meeting were Gillingham, Dickson, Leon DeWeese, Mayor
Pro-Tem Vinyard, and Mayor Brain.