South East Bexar County Awareness: Sandy Oaks Volunteer Fire Department Makes It's Last Call
Emergency Service Districts Not Worth It!
Too Much Government Control Jeopardizes Fire Safety
ESD6 SHUTS DOWN SANDY OAKS VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT. The fire department will not be able to respond to fires, however, their EMS (Medical) calls are separate as well as the hazmat service that Sandy Oaks provides. Sadly though, a quick call from County Commissioner Rodriguez himself, lead to the cancelation of medical protection. And as I was informed, without insurance, the department will no longer run hazmat calls either. The taxpayers of the Sandy Oaks VFD are paying taxes that are not being used to utilize fire safety in their area. According to Ms. Mendelsohn, it is nepotism that caused a breach of contract with the Department. As long as the Sandy Oaks VFD has been in existence, it has had family members as their volunteers. It is after all a "volunteer" station, these people were never salary employeed individuals and most of them are not today.
Those Were The Days
A few memories were shared about the Sandy Oaks Volunteer Fire Department by members of the community.
A family shared a memory about their families experience with the fire department. A gentleman in the area, who passed several years ago, was fortunate to have Charlie Metzger and his father on the staff of the VFD as he had many health issues and they were always just minutes away to respond to his needs.
Another neighborhood in the area had a small trash fire that quickly spread when the wind picked up and jumped from one property to the next, in those days, they were using an old pumper truck and it took them from about 9 am until about 8 pm to get the fire out and under control. The community members worked with the VFD to help save their properties. And it was shortly after that fire, that Charlie Metzger and John Longoria worked to get grants so that the department could get a new and state of the art fire truck.
Someone mentioned that there have been numerous times when they have been called to accidents on I-37, roll-overs, stray fires and they have always worked diligently to safe peoples homes and lives.
Sad to See You Go
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When speaking to several individuals about the fact that Sandy Oaks Volunteer Fire Department would be forced to close it's doors to fighting fires because of lack of funding from the ESD6 (Emergency Service District 6); the response was aren't they volunteers? Why are they complaining about not getting paid?
Instead, they should be asking, why are we being taxed to pay for fire protection and not using our tax dollars to make sure we have it? How much is our insurance going to go up without adequate fire protection?
The ESD6 was created and worked well, until Ms. Mendelsohn was appointed by County Comissioner Chico Rodriguez to run the ESD6 Board. The boards original role was to handle the tax payer dollars provided for the fire departments, so that they could "guarantee" to have fire protection during the day and to help off set the costs so that fire fighters could do just that. Their time would be spent more appropriately in fire training and safety, rather than standing on the street corners and having fundraiser after fundraiser to be able to provide a service. While they would be provided for funding for 2 paid fire fighters during the day, all other hours would be covered by volunteers. Tax payer funding was also to be used for training, vehicle maintenance, insurance, etc. Until Ms. Mendelsohn took over the ESD6 and it's surplus of approx. $850,000, it ran like a pretty well oiled machine. After the appointment of Ms. Mendelsohn, the money was squandered, "misplaced" and funding was cut and cut and cut until the departments were left with minimal funds. And Ms. Mendelsohn has had to take out two pay-day loans to make payments. A bankrupt entity is being allowed to continue to run even though the by-laws state clearly that it can not take out loans to maintain itself.
January 1, 2013, the Sandy Oaks VFD, will no longer fight fires under the ESD6, but the community will continue to pay taxes for that protection.
Ms. Mendelsohn, however, has mentioned in the media that she has entered into an inter-local agreement with ESD2 on the North/West side of the county to handle fires in the farthest south eastern region of Bexar County. The ESD2 is run by Ms. Mendelsohn's friend and another Chico Rodriguez Campaign supporter, Gil Perez along with ESD2 fire chief and former ESD6 Board Member, Joe Hearn (one and the same).
Joe Hearn had been appointed and paid as Fire Chief for the ESD6, illegally when this all began in 2010 and Mr. Hearn, quickly resigned his "paid" position and stated he would not receive any pay for the days that he worked, but ESD6 financials that were open to the public showed differently. Mr. Hearn was paid handsomely for the few days that he was Fire Chief and even after he was no longer affiliated with the fire departments. Now, Mr. Hearn has left the ESD6 board and once again take on the Fire Chief hat and a paid position, for the ESD2.
One might see this as nepotism or corruption. According to Ms. Mendelsohn, she says that the ESD2 will station 2 trucks in the ESD6 area. One at the unmarked office of the ESD6 on Loop 1604 and the other at the corner of 1604 S. & 37S. When these fire fighters are sitting in their trucks, how are they suppose to get training and stay physically fit to fight theses fires? When ESD2 is in need of their fire trucks, what is the ESD6 area suppose to do for fire safety?
The latest drive by, shows some older fire trucks being stationed at the ESD6 office.
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