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Explaining the perspectives on the Bryan-College Station Fire and EMS Interlocal Agreement

After the 1997 Interlocal Agreement, expired on Thursday, March 9, College Station voted to have automatic aid while negotiations pick back up.

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — For months, Bryan and College Station have worked together to find a solution for the future of Fire and EMS aid between the sister cities.

"Safety and services are what we do that's the only thing that we do," said Bryan Mayor, Bobby Gutierrez.

In 1997, Bryan and College Station created an interlocal agreement that allowed each city to assist the other for Fire and EMS calls. The City of College Station, after months of discussion, sent a letter to the City of Bryan on January 9, 2023 that sought to terminate the previous agreement and establish a new one.

The agreement expired at midnight on March 10, 2023 when the College Station City Council were still considering the best course of action during a council meeting. The options presented included automatic aid for high acuity calls and mutual aid for low acuity calls while working on reasonable rate negotiations, mutual aid for all calls made in each city, or accepting the City of Bryan's offer of automatic aid on life-threatening calls and mutual aid for non-life-threatening calls. 

Here is the difference between "automatic aid" and "mutual aid":

  • Automatic Aid: calls on the closest fire resources to respond to a call.
  • Mutual Aid: request made by adjacent city's fire staff, gives opposite side the right of refusal if needed.

College Station ultimately agreed to automatic aid while negotiations continued in a six to one vote.

The three major discussion points that appeared to be brought up during both council meetings included College Station's Fire Station 6 location, the reimbursement rates provided, and the resources available for both Bryan and College Station's fire staff.

On the Station 6 location, which was put in place in 2012, several Bryan leaders have stated that the fire station was strategically placed to respond to more Bryan calls than College Station. However, College Station Mayor Pro-Tem, Dennis Maloney, who says was on the city council at the time, said he differs from that opinion.

“We put the station where we have it not to help the city of Bryan, but to help the Northgate area that’s growing over there," said Maloney.

Reimbursement rates have also been a topic of heavy conversation. College Station leaders have sought to acquire what they say are proper reimbursements for what they predicted would be higher call volumes in Bryan down in the next several years. The City of Bryan proposed up to $240 per call that was not paid by the patient or insurance. Jared Salvato, who serves on District 3 on the Bryan City Council, said that the lives at stake must take priority.

“They’re playing a very dangerous game because they’re playing with lives of both sides of the border residents," said Salvato.

The availability of resources have also been addressed at both city council meetings. Both have claimed that the assistance each department plays in their own cities, as well as the discussions made between each, have played a vital role in determining the need for adequate fire resources in future years.

“When that happens and they’re out of resources, it pulls our resources and leaves less available for the people of College Station," said Richard Mann, College Station Fire Chief.

"We see runs increasing and more of these different runs...our firefighters have not only met that challenge, they’ve stepped up," said Richard Giusti, Bryan Fire Chief.

At this moment, the cities plan to further negotiate the best agreement for Fire and EMS responses while automatic aid is in place in the interim.

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