Budget Constraints Force Cuts in La Rosita Fire Department

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LA ROSITA - Some Starr County residents said they’re concerned about a drastic cutback in firefighter personnel.

County officials terminated eight firefighters from the La Rosita Fire Department earlier this week.

Starr County Commissioner Precinct 1 Jaime Alvarez said it was a necessary move due to budget constraints.

Alvarez said only one fire truck of six was operational earlier this month. The money saved will be rerouted.

“We wanted to get the equipment running and the other one to get the building back in order,” he explained.

Alvarez said he had to make the decision out of necessity. The territory the fire crew covers is vast. He said departments in La Rosita and surrounding cities collaborate with one another during emergency situations.

Alvarez said for now their focus is getting up to date with gear.

“As we fix the equipment and get trucks running, more employees will be required or more volunteer firemen, whatever the case,” he said.

The department recently added three firefighters, bringing their total team to four. Alvarez said it might be a while before additional responders are added.

Local businessman Luis Alberto Fernandez said he wants the department to be fully operational once again.

“They had good service before. With two or three people on staff, they won’t be able to do what they did with nine or 10,” he said.

Alvarez said he wants the community to know that the reshuffling was done with its safety in mind.

“People are not without protection. It would be better if we were 100 percent operational, 100 percent with equipment, but that not the case right now,” he said.

Alvarez said he expects to re-hire firefighters in a year. Meanwhile, he said surrounding cities will assist in emergency situations.

The department has one certified firefighter and three other firefighters who serve as volunteer firemen in the city of Escobares. Alvarez said more individuals are being trained to become volunteer firefighters.

La Rosita Fire Reports Statistics 2016:
Wildland Calls                          73
Acres                       1588 acres
Vehicle Calls                           7
HazMat Calls                           0
Structure Fire Calls                           4
EMS Calls                           5
Search/Rescue Calls                           2
Other Calls                         161
Total:                         252


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