Briggs/Oakalla residents discuss new fire station

Savanna Gregg/Burnet Bulletin
Briggs Fire Station planning committee member Steve Schlumpberger discusses growth in the Northeast Burnet County area, and emphasizes the importance of access to water tanks when considering plans to build the new Briggs Fire Station, which will protect a large portion of the County.






By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Residents of Briggs and Oakalla joined the Burnet County Emergency Services District 8, Oakalla Volunteer Fire Department, and the Briggs Fire Station planning committee at a Town Hall meeting held at the Oakalla VFD Saturday, Aug. 10 to discuss the construction of a new Briggs Fire Station.

The Oakalla VFD recently purchased four acres of land off of US 183 in Briggs, where they will soon build a fire station modeled after their facilities to continue serving the Northeast Burnet County area.

This purchase comes after the ESD 8 decided to allow for the expiration of their contract with the former Briggs VFD earlier this year, after various incidents caused the Board to reconsider its ties to the facility.

A new fire station in Briggs is a top priority after the dissolution of the VFD, and the communities’ participation was requested to hear the future plans, ask questions, and offer suggestions for the construction of the new facility in order to get a headstart.

“We are essentially taking this building and plopping it down over there,” said ESD 8 President Roberta Elmore at the meeting. “The location is outstanding; it is a great area.”

Once the project goes to bid and a total price for the construction is agreed upon, the new facility will feature a helipad and will be about 6,300 square feet, modeled after the Oakalla VFD building with three bay doors and, ultimately, a kitchen and meeting room. Along with the building, a septic tank will need to be dug, and a fence built, processes which are in their beginning stages.

“Response times will remain the same, but will be better in the winter time when we have to warm up the trucks before we send them out,” Oakalla VFD Chief Aaron Weeks said. “We also hope to have a water collection center at the location.”

Former ESD 8 President Roberta Eacott was one of the community members in attendance, and stated her appreciation for the work all entities are doing in formulating a plan to protect their homes.

Elmore and Weeks emphasized their need for the communities’ input because it is their tax dollars being put to work to create the facility, and the ideas of a variety of people who know the area best would create the best plan for its protection.

Briggs Fire Station planning committee member Steve Schlumpberger pointed out the wide range of the service area covered by the ESD 8 and stated that the group needs to consider the growth the area is seeing from the south, such as the recent sale of 50 lots in Phase I of the new Cloudwood subdivision and the coming construction of Phase II.

Schlumpberger noted a 22% increase in travel down Farm-to-Market 2657 through the Briggs area since 2013 (from 1,880 to 2,313 vehicles passing through per day, according to TxDOT reports), stating that growth is inevitable and water access is important when considering the new facility.

“We have good service capabilities with tanks at Watson (offered by Oakalla VFD President Gene Keeling at the intersection of US 183 and Farm-to-Market 963), and I think we need to make a hard push for water access at the old Briggs fire station,” Schlumpberger said. “If the community pushed for that water access, we would be on a good course to provide fire protection in our service area.”

The meeting was attended by community members all in support of the facility, and Meeks and Elmore were met with compliments and well wishes.

“Really and truly, we are all one,” said Fran Jones, who lives between the two communities. “This will bring everyone together.”

Elmore encouraged guests to attend the next ESD 8 meeting to stay updated on the planning of the new facility, geared towards continuing the effective protection of the Briggs/Oakalla area and its residents.

The next ESD 8 meeting will take place at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26 at the Oakalla Volunteer Fire Department, 29111 Farm-to-Market 963, Oakalla, Texas 78608.

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