What Is an ESD and What Does It Mean to Me?

Emergency Service Districts (ESDs) are political subdivisions in the State of Texas similar to a school district, HOA or hospital district. ESDs may support or provide emergency medical services, fire prevention and control services, or a combination of both services. ESDs are managed by five Commissioners that are sometimes appointed by the members of the County’s Commissioner Court. However, in Harris County and two other Texas counties (Orange and Smith), the Commissioners are elected officials chosen by residents of the ESD territory in a bi-annual November election.

ESDs gain their primary authority under the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 775 and are tasked to provide fire and/or EMS services. ESDs provide those services through direct delivery, or through contract service providers including local fire departments and ambulance services. Funding is generated for the ESDs through their authority as a special taxing district by collecting ad valorem and/or sales taxes. ESDs do not have the ability to affect services outside of their defined capabilities. Several of the incorporated cities provide emergency medical services, fire suppression and control services, or a combination to residents.

Most emergency services providers in this area, such as Sheldon Community Fire & Rescue, are signatories of the Harris County Automatic and Mutual AId Fire Protection Agreement, under which equipment and personnel can be made available as requested by signed parties. This means when necessary, other fire departments help each other out in times of need. Having mutual aid agreements in place assists in offsetting the costs and buy-down overall local risk inside Harris County. Beyond local mutual aid agreements, jurisdictions also have access to regional, state and federal resources through established protocols and procedures.

Sheldon Community Fire & Rescue is supported by Harris County Emergency Services District No. 60.