Judge-Executive files motion to stop Bell County Fire Departments from closing

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

The decision to close three more Bell County fire departments will end up in court.

The Bell County Judge-Executive is asking a federal judge to issue a restraining order to keep the fire departments open.

Billy Howell lives next door to the Clear Creek Fire Department, which gives him peace of mind if there is an emergency.

"It's very comforting to know they're close by and the guys would do the best to help out and do their job," said Howell.

But now that peace of mind is ending. Claiming lack of funding, the Bell County Fire Department Inc. is closing the departments in Clear Creek and Brownies Creek. Calloway could close next month.

"I'm saddened to hear it," said Howell.

The fire department is also allegedly donating a fire truck to a non-profit hunting club, Hopes and Dreams Outfitters.

Judge-Executive Albey Brock filed in federal court a motion for a restraining order, asking the judge to stop the fire departments from closing and stop the equipment transfer to the hunting club.

"To stop them from transferring assets that we believe are owned and paid for by the taxpayer," Brock said. He also added, "I don't know what a hunting club would need with a fire truck, but I'm sure we're going to find out in court."

The motion also claims closing the fire departments puts people's lives and property in jeopardy during a fire.

Attorneys for the fire department dispute the claim.

"The fire department is an independently owned entity that can provide fire service to the entire county from the stations that remain open, and we consider the motion without any merit," said Mark Hayden, attorney for the Bell County Fire Departments.

Hayden had no comment on the alleged equipment transfer to the hunting club.

A federal court date is not set yet.

Judge-Executive Brock says the fiscal court is still willing to fund all of the fire stations to keep them open.

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