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New Fire Marshal will report to Sheriff

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Weeks after Jason Rutherford resigned from the Bandera County Fire Marshal position, the County Commissioners made key changes to the Fire Marshal job description at the November 10 Commissioner’s Court.

During Nov. 10’s Commissioners’ Court, County Judge Richard Evans said there have been obstacles in regarding the position going back 27 years to when Evans was first elected.

Evans said he could not find a person to take the position, and when he did it was on a volunteer, unpaid position by Ralph Dresser, who reported directly to Evans.

“The statute says that the Court shall establish the office of the Fire Marshal. It doesn’t say that they actually handle the day-to-day duties of the Fire Marshal,” said Evans.

Evans said he discussed the matter with Sheriff Dan Butts and officially proposed his department assume the responsibility of hiring and overseeing the Fire Marshal role, as that office had more support staff and were more closely tied in public duty.

Butts told the court, “We could restructure this. We would have to figure out what his chain of command is. We’d have to establish what his pay grade is gonna be. We would post the position, do interviews and pick the best one we can find. Hey, when you got 72 employees, 73 doesn’t matter.”

HR Manager Sharon Dowda told the court “The closest we can get to what the past Fire Marshal was making is like a 23 in the law enforcement grade, which is like a Sergeant in the Sheriff’s department.”

Dowda confirmed the Fire Marshal position does not require any specific certifications.

Butts told the court an officer in the sheriff’s department, after getting their certifications, earns more than $23,000 per year.

“We’ve never required that the Fire Marshal be a peace officer, but if the Sheriff wants to handle that commission, he can do so,” said Evans.

Following the approved changes, the Fire Marshal will report to the Sheriff through chain of command and will have frequent contact with all county departments, Commissioner’s Court, Volunteer Fire Departments, EMS, municipalities, governmental agencies and the general public.

As Rutherford’s resignation was immediate, Bandera County is actively accepting applications for a full-time Fire Marshal.

Applications will be accepted through Friday, November 18, at 4:30 P.M.