ESD Handbook, 1st edition, 2017: SAFE-D (Texas State Association of Fire and Emergency Districts), Pflugerville, TX 2017.
"The origination of the idea for a special government entity to provide fire protection and emergency medical service began in 1949 at the behest of farmers and local property insurers that hoped to provide adequate funding for rural areas against the devastating effects of fire damage. In response, the Texas Legislature created Rural Fire Prevention Districts ("RFPD"). These special districts would levy a property tax capped at $0.03 per $100 of property valuation and serve as the precursors to ESDs.
"As time passed and the Texas population grew, more areas looked to the legislature to create a better funded form of the existing RFPD. In 1987, the Legislature created, with voter approval, Emergency Services Districts that were equipped with broader powers and responsibilities than RFPDs and possess the capability to tax at the higher rate of $0.10/$100. ESDs were originally divided into two classifications with a different set of laws pertaining to each based on the population of the District. In 2003 and 2011, the various laws were refined by first converting all RFPDs into ESDs and later uniting all ESDs under one set of laws.
"ESDs are designed to ensure adequate funding of local fire, EMS, rescue, and other emergency services. An important principle behind ESDs is to spread the funding for vital emergency services amongst everyone within the district that might depend on those services. Simply put, ESDs are an answer to fundraising efforts such as bake sales and barbecues that typically take time and effort away from service provision and can still leave the service provider in difficult financial straits.
"Tax revenues may be used by the ESD to hire fulltime emergency personnel, contract with other entities that have fulltime fire and emergency medical departments, and/or purchase new equipment and facilities. More importantly for some areas, ESDs can contract with volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services organizations and provide a stable funding source for these entities. ESD tax revenues mean more time to focus on training and the provision of emergency services rather than fundraising and other activities. Through stable funding, many established ESDs have considerably reduced fire and medical response times and allowed local entities to provide enhanced services, thus saving lives, property, and funds for local citizens.
"The establishment of an ESD may result in a better Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating within the ESD service area, and lower insurance premiums for businesses and homeowners. The result is fair, evenly shared support from all the citizens who get fire response and emergency medical care from their local emergency services organization or the ESD itself."