Emergency service topics took center stage at last Tuesday’s Midlothian City Council meeting as aldermen voted unanimously to purchase a new pumper truck for the fire department, approved a trauma program for first responders and also entered into an interlocal agreement with neighboring municipalities to expand the city’s radio coverage.

The pumper, which is a 2020 model Pierce-Custom Dash CF PUC, was OK’d for a purchase price of $719,502.82 utilizing the Buy Board contract.

Fire chief Dale McCaskill told the Council that the fire department is following a scheduled apparatus replacement program.

“In 2013, as you might remember, we purchased three identical engines and … it greatly enhanced our capabilities at the time and replaced a fleet that was aging,” McCaskill said. “It also presented us with a little bit of a challenge in the fact that we had three engines that would be aging at the same time.”

The new purchase is early in the typical retirement cycle, McCaskill noted, but added that the purchase would help set his department on a normal retirement schedule for its units. Once the new pumper is received, the department will auction off a 16-year-old vehicle that is currently in reserve status.

The Council also agreed on an ordinance to extend an annual renewal with Ellis County Emergency District No. 2 for fire and EMS response services. McCaskill told the Council that the district basically encompasses the extent of Midlothian Independent School District outside of city limits.

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with that service delivery, and this year we have a contract that would extend this for one year,” McCaskill said, adding that the ordinance would also let the fire department earmark $230,000 for a new ambulance through money saved by items removed from the Fire Station 1 project.

McCaskill said the department will be looking to purchase a gasoline-powered ambulance rather than a diesel one, because of higher maintenance costs associated with diesel motors.

On the expanded radio coverage, city IT support technician David Schrodt told the Council that the city has been using two sites for its 700-MHz trunk public radio system since October 2017, but was recently approached by the city of Waxahachie to expand it to a three-site system at Waxahachie's expense.

“It will double the number of talk paths that we have,” Schrodt said, adding that Waxahachie has agreed to share the future costs of upkeep of software and hardware as a one-third partner.

The trunk system presently includes the cities of Red Oak and Ovilla, as well as the Red Oak Independent School District. The expansion southeast to Waxahachie extends the footprint of the coverage area while saving the city 33 percent in ongoing maintenance expenses.

The city also agreed to yet another interlocal agreement, this time with the city of Cedar Hill for a trauma-based education and peer response program through the Readiness Group, LLC for first responders who have been traumatized in the course of their duties.

McCaskill said eight other cities are partnering with this program, and authorizing the agreement would allow Midlothian first-response personnel to have access to this service.

“The best thing is it comes at no expense to us,” he said. “We’ll have access to it and provide some of our personnel who can train to respond to other communities and help at times of need.”

Mayor pro tem Justin Coffman presided over the meeting in the absence of mayor Richard Reno, who was ill. Board members Wayne Sibley, Mike Rodgers, Ted Miller and Art Pierard were present; board member Clark Wickliffe was also absent because of illness.

All items on the agenda passed with a 5-0 vote.

In other items:

• As mayor pro tem, Coffman read a proclamation declaring Tuesday, Oct. 1 as National Night Out 2019 in Midlothian.

• The consent agenda, featuring four items, passed unanimously. The items included approval of minutes from previous Sept. 3 and Sept. 10 meetings; approval of an interlocal agreement to assign part-time police officers to Midlothian ISD for the 2019-2020 school year as school resource officers; authorization of a parade route to be held on Monday for Midlothian High School’s homecoming; and another interlocal agreement between the city and the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District.

• The city entered into a facility agreement with Rush Creek Church to meet at the Midlothian Conference Center. Assistant city manager Clyde Melick told the council that rental rates would be $1,550 for six hours on Sunday mornings, based on the rate last paid.

• The council authorized the city to use Travelers Insurance for coverage, then approved Travelers as the city’s insurance provider in favor of the Texas Municipal League. City chief financial officer Ann Honza told the council the switch will represent a $61,000 savings in premium payments. The city will stay with the TML on some items.

• Following a brief executive session, the city agreed to sell a pair of undeveloped lots on North Fifth Street for a total amount of $20,000 and hire an employee for the city manager’s office.