Fire protection to end for some homeowners

February 21, 2012 3:50:00 PM PST
Imagine getting a letter saying the fire department will not be there to help if your home catches fire. That's what's happening outside the city limits of one local community, and homeowners want answers.

Residents outside of the city of Rosenberg are being told they'll soon be on their own when it comes to fire services. At the heart of this issue -- costs.

Some homeowners in Shady Oaks Estates are meeting to talk about their next step. Right now, if there is a fire here after October of next year, there is no entity that is contracted to respond to it.

The saying is that "home is where the heart is..."

"This is our little heaven out here," homeowner Jerry Faldyn said. "We love it."

Faldyn worries his house, if it caught fire, could leave him broken-hearted.

He said, "It's something that's concerning us all."

It's concerning now because late last year Faldyn and others in unincorporated areas outside Rosenberg received a surprise letter from Rosenberg City Manager Jack Hamlett stating that the city will "terminate fire services" effective October 1, 2013. It's unsettling for those who for years have counted on Rosenberg to be there if there was a fire.

"It's not really acceptable," Faldyn said. "But sometimes your hands are tied and you don't have too much choice."

The city says it's a matter of money.

"In essence our city taxpayers are subsidizing the fire service in the unincorporated areas," Hamlett explained.

For years, Hamlett says, Rosenberg provided fire protection to unincorporated areas near it in part with funding reimbursed by Fort Bend County. But as costs for services have increased, Hamlett tells us, the county's portion of the funding has not. He says right now it costs the city twice what the county pays.

"We can't continue to do that out of fairness to our city taxpayers," Hamlett said.

Rosenberg is offering to continue providing fire protection -- for a price.

Faldyn said, "This is something we're going to have to deal with or come up with some alternatives."

Alternatives are few when it comes to protecting the home, and the heart.

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