Grayson County Commissioners add Fire Marshal positions

By: Kylie Dixon Email
By: Kylie Dixon Email

SHERMAN, TX-- Last summer wildfires burned hundreds of acres across Grayson County. Some of those fires were believed to be arson.

But that was never confirmed because there was no designated investigator. Tuesday the county took steps to change that. Commissioners named the first countywide fire marshal and assistant fire marshal.

While most of the court said the positions are necessary to identify and solve arsons, not all county officials were on board with this new position.

North Texas Regional Airport's Chief Kevin Walton will begin his job as Grayson County Fire Marshal and Assistant Fire Chief David Gallagher now becomes the Assistant Fire Marshall.

"It's going to be a challenge, but it will be a lot of fun, that we've been preparing for a while," Gallagher said.

Several of last year's wildfires may have been arson, but were never fully investigated.

"The county probably didn't get to look at them like we should have, it should give them a good sense of being a little safer out there," Walton explained.

Emergency manager Sarah Somers said with a new fire marshal investigating, they may be able to locate and arrest arsonists before they can set more fires.

"In some instances the origin was suspicious, we were asked over and over, 'what are you all doing about it?' We didn't have a county fire marshal."

Somers and County Judge Drue Bynum have been working on creating these positions for a year. Their salaries will be paid with funds in the county's existing budget.

Commissioner David Whitlock was the only commissioner who opposed the new positions.

"I feel like the fire marshal position is unnecessary at this time in Grayson County and I feel like that's another step towards more governing of the people and I don't appreciate that," Whitlock said.

But the newly appointed fire marshals says their only goal is to protect county residents.

"Hopefully it will make them feel a little better, that we have this office established now to help with fire prevention and mitigation and if there are suspicious fires or anything like that, we can help with investigations," Gallagher said.

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