Lufkin dispatch hub to discontinue dispatching Angelina Co. VFDs

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Lufkin Police dispatch center has been dispatching Angelina County volunteer fire departments  for more than 30 years but due to increased call volume and lack of man power the city says they had to cut back the work load.

There is a big change in store for how Angelina County volunteer fire departments are dispatched to emergencies.

Lufkin city manager, Paul Parker says the city won't be dispatching VFDs anymore due to lack of manpower.

Bobby Cranford, President of the Angelina County Firefighters Association said, "They really are overloaded. They take every 911 call that comes into the county"

But the sheriff's office is expected to take over the responsibility.

According to Angelina County Sheriff, Greg Sanches, "Sheriff's department is definitely going to step up and make sure the citizens are protected and make sure the volunteer fire departments are protected as well."

All 911 calls come through Lufkin Police dispatch first and now those in Angelina County with fire or other emergencies will have to be transferred to the Angelina County Sheriff's dispatch where the call will then be transferred to Central Volunteer Fire Department of Hudson VFD or any other volunteer fire department in Angelina County.

And the VFDs say there will be a transition period.

"Their dispatchers have never worked with county fire so it's going to be a learning curve for them and for us," said Cranford.

"Dispatchers are going to have to learn our lingo. It's a little bit different that's going to be new for them. They're used to dispatching law enforcement not fire units but it'll work out. It'll be for the better," said Dennis Cochran, Central VFD Chief. "We appreciate them doing it for the many years that they did. it's going to be a transitional period, lot of things to get used to on our side and the sheriff's side."

"It will be tough because those dispatchers have to learn how the volunteer fire departments work," said Hudson Fire Department Chief, Marcial Fosie.

But in the same breath Fosie says that change is good.

"I know Lufkin dispatchers have been overwhelmed with callas and just nuisance calls and stuff like that so with us switching over to the sheriff's department I know it'll probably put a load on them but they don't have near the load that Lufkin dispatch does and I think it will help out ad be beneficial to all the volunteer fire departments," said Fosie.

The tentative switch date set by the city is December 31st and all parties say that's not enough time.

"Really it's too short of a notice," said Sanches.

"It's really not a lot of time to get things worked out because the new dispatchers don't know the county, they don't know where the departments are," said Cranford.

Sheriff Sanches says they are also in need of more manpower.

"We're already short-handed when it comes to the standpoint of having enough dispatchers because you know the county is a big county and we take on a lot of responsibilities here and just adding the volunteer fire departments....that is going to put a pretty good burden on the county," said Sanches.

But he says they will do everything they can to make the transition process as smooth as possible.

"You don't want to have too major of a learning curve when it comes to the protection of a citizen out there when they call and they need you, you know? So we want to make sure that it's done correctly and it's done as fast and efficient as it should be," said Sanches.

It also seems to be the consensus that the transition will be better in the long run for the VFDs.

"I think eventually they'll do a better job at it because they're already dispatching sheriff's department units to rural areas same as where we're going to be dispatched to," said Cochran.

"With this change over we're going to do the best we can. We're not going to leave citizens unprotected and we're just going to keep moving forward and hope for the best," said Fosie.

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