TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — The city of Taylor’s fire chief is sounding the alarm: He says they’re not staffed to handle the fire risks new industries — including Samsung — will bring to the city.

Thursday night, Taylor City Council members approved a $68,109 contract with a company, CityGate Associates, to create a master plan for the city’s fire services.

According to a presentation prepared by the chief for the city council, Samsung would front the money and the city would pay the company back.

In his presentation, Chief Daniel Baum also stated the department’s staffing and deployment strategy, which hasn’t changed in over 20 years, is “reaching its limits” with the spurt of new growth the city has experienced.

“The coming of Samsung and other heavy industrial uses brings new hazards to the community that the Taylor Fire Department is not currently staffed or equipped to handle,” Baum added.

City of Taylor Fire Department (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)
City of Taylor Fire Department (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

Baum said a master plan, expected to take about five months, would compare how their department stacks up to national standards, incoming growth, and the types of growth expected.

He said they’ll use all that information to make decisions on “staffing, fire station
location, equipment needs, and service levels.”

Taylor firefighter Colton Brock said he’s seen that growth on the ground, firsthand, over his five years with the department.

“I got out of the military, I wanted to do something else to serve the community, our nation, and the fire was was a calling for me,” he said.

Tia Stone, president of the Greater Taylor Chamber of Commerce, said the number of new home permits in Taylor tied their record last year, and they expect that to climb as Samsung gets closer to opening.

“In comparison, I think at [20]18 and [20]19 we had, if you added them together, we didn’t even have as many housing starts as we had last year,” she said.

She also said her office is getting multiple inquiries a day about folks either interested in moving or starting their businesses in the small town. She said before Samsung’s announcement, she’d get a few inquiries a week.

“What we have seen is an energy surge,” Stone said.

Stone said they also hope to expand staff later this year and help train residents for the workforce.

“We’re working on being sure we know what skills are going to be needed, and then being sure that those skills are available for people to attain both youth and adults trying to reenter or enter the workforce or change careers, or whatever they need to do for their families,” she said.

Latest on the Samsung Taylor factory

During a Jan. 13 meeting, city council members unanimously approved the annexation of more than 1,200 acres of land set to become Samsung’s new $17 billion chip-making plant.

That’s after Samsung met all of the zoning requirements outlined in their original agreements with the city. Now the city, county and school districts can collect property taxes on the land.

According to a city spokesperson, that means Taylor is projected to receive more than 52 million additional dollars over 30 years to its general fund.