At the Oct. 10 Kingwood Service Association Public Safety Committee meeting, Charles Martin, district chief of emergency operations for the Houston Fire Department (HFD), announced that the department is in the process of entering into an automatic aid agreement with the Porter Fire Department. This agreement is good news for both Kingwood-area residents and those living in the Porter area.
“We met today with the Porter Fire Department to talk about things we have been talking about in-house for months. Porter Fire Department and I and the Houston Fire Department are in the process of forming an automatic aid agreement. We ironed out a lot details today and the big thing we have left to do is create our communications link and do our district mapping to know exactly where this will go on,” he said.
Martin explained that this is part of an overall effort by HFD to “fill in the gaps” with these agreements in several places around the City of Houston, including Bellaire, Aldine and Porter. In theory, Houston response will automatically run up into the Porter area to just south of Ford Road. Porter will automatically respond to appropriate calls on the west side of Kingwood. The process of creating an automatic aid agreement started within the HFD in May.
“Kingwood was high on the priority list and it is moving forward,” Martin said, explaining why with an example of a multiple alarm fire. When it breaks out in Kingwood, all of the available units within HFD would respond up to the expected level of need. That includes equipment from stations as far away as Houston Intercontinental Airport. If they are all out of service or already committed it could require response from Greenspoint, even further away.
Martin said that with the agreement in place, “Just by taking the four closest stations, no matter who it is (HFD or Porter), it saves 63 response minutes. That can mean a total of one hour’s worth of driving in emergencies.” He explained that in planning and modeling these situations, it works out 10 to 15 minutes average for each responding piece of equipment to get to the scene.
“We think it will be first quarter 2019 when this takes place. I feel positive enough on the handshake we had today that it is going to go through,” Martin said.
Martin also updated the committee on plans to move Fire Station No. 104 in Forest Cove, which was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, to a new location. He said that real progress was made earlier in the day when two new bankers were officially re-assigned for financing the new station. He pointed out that the move is part of the FEMA-funded flood event and they are on a two-year timeline. “We don’t have the site yet but we are moving forward,” he said.
In other business, the committee approved a motion by Dee Price of Sand Creek to fund up to $4,100 to provide holiday dinners for the community’s first responders who will be on duty during Thanksgiving and Christmas. This has become an annual tradition. Locations where the meals will be served include the Kingwood Police Station and all of the fire stations that provide service to Kingwood, including the Atascocita Fire Station that services the Kingwood area on the south side of the San Jacinto River.
Sgt. James Pavlu of the Houston Police Department asked all of the committee members to take back his annual message to their homeowners and asked them to actively spread the word. He said, “The holidays are fast approaching and BMVs [burglary of motor vehicles] always go up. Lock your cars. Don’t leave all your Christmas presents, wallets and valuables visible in your car, especially at night.”
Pavlu emphasized that locking them includes when cars are parked in homeowners’ driveways as much as in parking lots. He also pointed that when having one’s home commercially decorated or lighted for the holidays, to not, under any circumstances, provide security codes for homes and garages to those doing the decorating. “It happens every year; people wonder why after Christmas all their stuff is gone and there was no breaking and entering to get to it,” he said.
The next Public Safety Committee Meeting will be on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2038 Shadow Rock, Kingwood. The public is invited to attend.