Weslaco Terminates Fire Service Contract with Progreso

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PROGRESO – The city of Weslaco decided to end their fire service contract with the city of Progreso on Thursday.

In 2015, the city of Progreso learned from Hidalgo County they needed to find their own fire service.

"Cities needed to have their own fire service," said Progreso City Manager Fred Espinosa. "So we made a contract with the city of Weslaco.”

Weslaco Fire Department responded to fire service calls in Progreso for two years.

This year, Progreso started up their own volunteer fire department. This brought about the end of the agreement between the two cities.

"We informed the Weslaco Fire Department that we, about two weeks before we opened that we were going to, the city was going to provide service on their own," said Espinosa.

Weslaco commissioners decided to officially end the fire service contract at a meeting last night.

"So this contract was ongoing and would renew by itself until the city of Progreso stated we do not longer need the backing of Weslaco fire to respond," said Antonio Lopez, Weslaco Fire Chief.

Lopez says their EMS services will continue to respond to certain calls according to their mutual aid agreement with Progreso.

"The city of Progreso does not have extrication equipment so that in turn puts a liability on us as a response of the EMS to be able to extricate a patient during a rescue operation, which the city of Progreso cannot offer that service," said Lopez.

The fire service contract cost the city of Progreso $58,000 since the first call was made in August 2015. They have yet to pay back one cent. This factored into Weslaco's decision.

Some Progreso residents were uneasy when they heard the news that Weslaco would no longer respond to fire in their city.

Epifania Cruz and her husband were the victims of a major fire in Sept. 2016. Her house was one of three which caught on fire. Weslaco fire department responded to the scene along with other agencies.

"I felt really sad because our neighbor’s house got completely burned," said Cruz. "It's great help when they come and help us putting out the fires because, without them, you feel vulnerable without support.”

Espinosa says there's no need for concern.

"We do provide a good service as of right now," said Espinosa. "We're constantly trying to improve, but they can be assured they will be protected."

Lopez says Progreso still has the support of the Weslaco fire department on any call they may need.

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