Trinidad Fire Department to respond in Malakoff after firefighters resign in unison

Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 8:54 PM CDT
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MALAKOFF, Texas (KLTV) - The Trinidad Fire Department and departments from surrounding cities will supposedly share in response duties after the entire Malakoff Volunteer Fire Department resigned in unison Monday.

“Chief Woods stood up and said ‘there’s a problem, some of the firemen are fed up with the situation and some people are going to quit’," said DeWitt Loven, the assistant volunteer fire chief in Malakoff. “I told them I would be the first to resign. I sat down, one of the captains stood up, said his piece, said he would be resigning.”

Seventeen members of the city’s volunteer fire department resigned during Monday night’s city council meeting.

“We were told, as soon as we got off that call, to get everything to the station, put everything up, notify the chief of police and he would lock everything up,” said Loven.

The reason given was that there was a lack of communication between the city and the fire department.

“We fall under the city council, which falls under, we have to deal with the city administrator on a day-to-day basis,” said Loven. “If we need to buy something, anything and everything, we have to deal with her.”

Loven said the department has done the work to apply for multiple grants for the department and the city will not complete and submit the applications.

“The mayor pro tem made the motion, and it was seconded, to table the item — the grant and the truck — to the next meeting,” said Loven. “He told us get to paperwork together, about how much we wanted to spend… We worked on this for a month getting this together. A few days before the meeting, the administrator called the chief and said it’s been put off until May. They’re giving away $30,000 and a free truck.”

Also, Loven said the city was not paying bills incurred by their volunteer fire department. He stated that he and Chief Jay Woods have both paid out of pocket for uniform items.

“I had to field phone calls from creditors who have come up with my name and phone number, saying I’m responsible for these bills and I wasn’t even in the department,” said Loven. “The phone has been cut off at the station, the internet has been shut off at the station, our secondary backup dispatch has been cut off because bills are not being paid.”

KLTV reached out to the City of Malakoff’s administration multiple times and did not receive a response.

“It’s just sad that this has to happen for people to open their eyes to see what’s going on in their community,” said Loven. “This has been going on for years.”

Loven said he expects the city to call an emergency meeting and is hoping for the best.

“We’re dedicated to what we do and it really bothers me that what has happened has come to this,” said Loven. “But, we’re at our wits end. We have done everything we can do.”

Loven said the department is granted a roughly $63,000 budget and they’ve used less than half of that this year. He said the fire station has unsafe bay doors, the tires on the truck are past their 7-year safety mark, and many other things should be fixed or purchased.

“We’ve got the money in the budget, but they will not fix it," said Loven. “We should be on the [city council] agenda every month, without fail.”

Loven said he would consider going back to the Malakoff Fire Department, if things change. “At this point, it’s up to the Malakoff city council as to how they proceed,” said Loven.

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