Cypress Creek Fire Dept. absorbed into ESD 13 to cut red tape
Cypress Creek Fire Department dropped “Volunteer” from its name at the beginning of 2019, but officials affirm that the level and quality of service remains unchanged and ready for improvement.
On Jan. 1, Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department was officially absorbed by Harris County Emergency Services District No. 13, the local governing entity for fire and emergency services, essentially combining the two into one organization, according to CCFD officials.
Richard Lieder, fire chief for CCFD, said the change will not be noticeable to local citizens financially or otherwise, as taxes and general organization are not affected, although Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s administrative staff has been absorbed by ESD No. 13.
“It’s kind of the way we’ve been operating for years anyway, but we still had this old contractual relationship out there,” Lieder said. “So everyone said, ‘We’ve been operating like this for probably five years, so lets fix it and formalize the arrangement.’ Both parties agreed, the VFD board of directors and the ESD commissioners both approved the change and that change happened midnight on the first.”
Lieder said the change will allow CCFD to avoid an extra step of approval for administrative business, going straight to ESD No. 13 officials instead of needing approval by the now-dissolved CCVFD board. For example, rather than doing two audits for approximately $10,000 each for two separate entities, CCFD can now cut the cost in half due to being one organization.
Lieder said overall the change has been in the works for more than a year due to most employees, including Lieder and staff officers, being ESD employees already and that the process was a mutual agreement between ESD No. 13 and the former CCVFD board.
The department, which fully staffs all four stations and transferred 100 percent of all paid and volunteer staff to CCFD, is currently looking for more volunteers and staff members.
“We’re taking this opportunity to do some restructuring, moving some people around to take best advantage of what different groups of people can provide and put them in positions where they can best utilize their abilities,” Lieder said. “For members of the public and the other agencies that we automatic aid with, it’s really a totally seamless change. It’s the same people at the same fire stations on the same fire trucks going out there providing service.”
Steve Vandyk, public information officer for CCFD, said the restructuring offers potential volunteers and full-time staff the opportunity for more stable employment.
“There’s full-time roles for them to aspire to,” Vandyk said. “You can have volunteers that literally begin volunteering with us and over time transition to, possibly, a career. Whereas in the past they may have had to go to other agencies if they decided this is something they really wanted to do.”
Along with a stable location, Vandyk said the restructuring allows the organization to focus more on community outreach, including smoke detector blitzes, which encourage community members to replace smoke alarms within the recommended time frame of ten years.