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Costs too high to pay Socorro firefighters

By: Stacey Welsh
SOCORRO, Texas -- Former city leaders discussed paying firefighters in the past, but now the city said that would be too expensive.

"The former fire chief that had been hired gave us an estimate roughly that the staff would cost about $300,000. That would be a yearly cost," Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz said.

Socorro currently pays to be part of El Paso County's Emergency Services District, and gets access to trucks and other equipment the fire department needs.

Ruiz said the costs keep adding up because of this. In addition to paying the firefighters, Ruiz said Socorro would have to pay $5 million to $7 million to leave the E.S.D. and keep their equipment to maintain the city's own fire department.

"There was conflict between the E.S.D. and Socorro debating on whether you can get out of the E.S.D. Do you hold an election, or do you not hold an election? Ultimately, the plan just fell through," Ruiz said.

Some said they don't have a problem with the current services.

"There was a fire in a trailer in my backyard and the fire department were there as quickly as they could. I mean it was five to 15 minutes maybe. I don't know the response time, but for me that was fairly quickly," Socorro resident Jessica Dominguez said.

Leaving the E.S.D. could also mean Socorro would get less help from other fire departments in the county.

"We all pitch in and we help pay for those services so when a fire happens we can go pull in people from Clint to help in Socorro. When they have an issue in Clint, Socorro goes and San Eli. We all help each other out," Ruiz said.

But Dominguez said being volunteers is unfair to the firefighters.

"I think they deserve it. I think it would be nice for them to get what they deserve. They're quick, and I feel confident that if I were sick and I needed them, they'd respond quickly."



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