Mutual cooperation has always been a priority for Williamson County first responders, but never so much as during the summer wildfire season from August through October. To be better prepared for the summer fire season, the Williamson County Fire Chief’s Association adopted the Williamson County Wildfire Task Force Regional Procedure in March 2023 as a way to streamline requests for additional resources at wildfires.
The procedure breaks the county into four quadrants with the dividing lines being IH 35 and SH 29. When a wildfire occurs in one quadrant that requires additional resources for the response, a task force from a different quadrant is activated to respond. A Task Force consists of three Type-6 engines from paid fire departments, one Type-6 engine from a volunteer fire department, one tender, one ambulance, one Type-1 Engine and the closest battalion chief.
Williamson County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works to coordinate the resources. If a resource can’t be filled by one agency, OEM works to find that resource with another department. OEM also will request the Texas Forest Service to respond and can locate a drone to offer a bird’s eye view of the fire and hot spots.
“We have used the Wildfire Task Force about three times already this summer, and it has really streamlined the process of requesting additional resources on a fire scene,” said Michael Shoe, director of Williamson County’s Office of Emergency Management.
“This task force greatly enhances our firefighting capabilities within the region, providing an elevated level of protection to our communities," said Fire Chief Shane Glaiser of the Round Rock Fire Department and head of the Williamson County Fire Chief's Association. "It also offers invaluable on-the-ground experience for our crews to be better prepared to serve our own residents.”