ROPESVILLE, TX -- After a nearly two year hiatus, the Ropes Volunteer Fire and EMS Department hopes their services will be available to the community again within weeks.
A budget dispute with the City of Ropesville forced the department to shutter back in June 2012. The city said they couldn't afford to fund the agency any longer. They then tried to claim ownership over the department's vehicles and equipment. Ropes V.F.D. denied the equipment belonged to the city, so they sued.
That lawsuit was finally settled this past March, in the favor of the department, confirming they owned said equipment. However, they were evicted from their station April 1, since it was a city-owned property.
During all this, neighboring municipalities like Levelland and Wolforth have had to provide Ropesville with emergency services. This has drastically increased response times for Ropesville, and upped call volumes for nearby departments. But having to wait longer for emergency services isn't just inconvenient for the Ropes crew of volunteers...it's personal.
"We lost a child of one of our volunteer firefighters," according to Assistant Chief Brandon Greenlee. "I think a faster response time would have helped."
With the lawsuit wrapped up, the department is no longer in legal limbo. However, the cost of this lawsuit has set them back, and with no funding coming in from the City of Ropesville, they'll have to be 100 percent self-reliant before they can get back to work.
"Right now were working on getting our insurance, our Workman's Comp," says EMS Director Kenny Greenlee. "Down the road, we're going to have to build a new station."
But, they say they're happy to finally be able to start a new chapter.
"We're just happy that it's finally to the point where we can move on, and try to get this agency up and running again," says Greenlee. "Start fighting fires and responding to calls again."
If you'd like to help, you can mail donations to the Ropes Fire Department Fund at P.O. Box 331, Ropesville, Texas, 79358. They are a registered non-profit, and all donations are tax deductible.