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Attention please! This is not a Call The Cops satire. Texas fire department to run golf course.

TX Kilgore golf course

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I know this will story sound just like one of those fake articles by the folks at Call The Cops, but it isn't. It also isn't April Fools, so I am going to have to believe what I am reading from multiple news reports out of Kilgore, Texas last week. Financial struggles at the Meadowbrook Golf Course has city leaders ditching the management company that was running the facility and putting it under the control of the City of Kilgore Fire Department.

Bob Hallmark, KLTV-TV:

"The city is subsidizing several thousand dollars every year on this. We're fortunate enough as a fire department to be able to enhance and come out and assist the current staff," says Kilgore Fire Chief Johnny Bellows.

On a voluntary basis, firefighters will staff the course clubhouse.

"We're here to make this course run a little bit better and more efficiently. If the people we bring out to the course are needed, we're able to send them out also. They'll be here two at a time, and then they rotate during the day," Bellows says.

In two man shifts, on-duty firefighters will be assigned to Meadowbrook, but not to perform traditional firefighter duties.

"We'll do maintenance work, we'll help out with the chef if we need to serve tables, wait tables, help out with the janitorial services. We do not in any way jeopardize the safety or our response to the community," says Bellows.

For firefighters, its not bad duty.

"We are so excited about it, to be able to come out and intermingle with the community and have the community see us, we're really looking forward to it," says Kilgore firefighter Kelly Vestal.

Fire Chief Johnny Bellows said he and the two other highest ranking chiefs will have their offices at the former country club. Adding three firefighters to the department will allow a crew to also make Meadowbrook its base, he said.

“We actually will be pulling them from the stations,” Bellows said. “In a way, we can almost call this Station 4.”

Except, instead of reading, sleeping or otherwise occupying themselves between emergency calls, the Meadowbrook fire crews will help in the restaurant or where needed, Bellows said.

“If we need to help clean the restaurant and set the tables, we’ll do that,” he said. “Maybe we’ll take orders. I’m excited. Our firefighters are excited. And they definitely are going to have smiles on their faces and greet people that come out to the course.”

The club restaurant might undergo the most significant change. Historically a fine dining venue, it will be renamed the Firehouse Bar & Grill and take on a sports bar atmosphere, Sellers said. Expect three-alarm chili, he added.

James Draper,

The two firefighters, per shift, will be pulled from the fire department’s on-duty backup response team to serve as wait-staff and pro-shop attendants.

“This will not impact response times,” (Kilgore City Manager Scott) Sellers noted.

Assigned to the back-up response team, the two firefighters will only need to respond to incidents if an emergency requires more manpower than Kilgore’s three fire stations can field at a given time. When necessary, the pair will leave the golf course to assist the rest of the department’s complement of firefighters, their Meadowbrook duties filled temporarily by either KFD administrative staffers (newlyhoused at the course) or other personnel at the facility.

“The administrative fire staff currently at City Hall, they will be moving to the golf course, which will provide three bodies up there at any given time to assist,” Sellers explained. “This is a great, great utilization of the resource of our firefighters who are an asset to the city, to the community. They don’t have to be stationed at any one place, per se, while they’re waiting for that fire to occur. They can be anywhere – they might as well be at the course helping.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Anthony

    Was their union offciers on vacation when this came down the pike or are they just that gung ho to be working that they will wait tables between calls. This is putting firefighters in a poor light in my eyes that they need busy work . 

  • RJ in florida

    caddyshack goes fire rescue? sounds like a movie plot to me

  • Volunteer for life

    What A joke. Sounds like all they need is a well run volly dept. Wait they will have drinking scandals and all kinds of non-sense.

  • Fire21

    If ya got a problem, call the fire dept.  They'll fix things!!

  • fyrecapt

    So basically, the firefighters for the City of Kilgore have just become maintenance workers. Incredible! So when do these firefighters start mowing city yards, cleaning parks, etc? This is setting a dangerous presedence for themselves.

    Even if the city was having economical problems, this is not the way to handle it.

    Honestly I am shocked the Kilgore FF's association would agree to this. Obviously there is more to this story then what is being posted. However, poor utilization of city resources.

  • puzzled

     "In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher.'"

    Bill Murray hasn't got anything on what a few firefighters could do to a golf course.

  • CFD Rescue 1

    What the hell…..Sounds like they have lost their minds in Kilgore TX. A fire Chief that makes this statement "Except, instead of reading, sleeping or otherwise occupying themselves between emergency calls, the Meadowbrook fire crews will help in the restaurant or where needed, Bellows said." Isn't this the same department that two firefighters were killed in while training. Maybe they should spend their idle time TRAINING and not reading or sleeping between calls and certainly not running a golf course. I got an idea Chief maybe crews could also pick-up the garbage onces a week or run the street sweeper on Saturday mornings!

  • AArdvark

    You F'in kidding me ??!!  I'm glad that the rest of the department is sleeping, reading, etc. during down time. Way to show the public how expendable you are!!! I guess there is no need for training, inspecting, blah, blah, blah. This goes right in line with advertsing Joe's Garage on the side of fire trucks.

    While I think that this would be a good investment for OFF-duty firefighters, this operation takes absurdity to a new level. How come the house burned down or granny died from a heart attack because the first in unit was on the 8th hole fertalizing……

  • fyrecapt

    CaddyShack III

    Bill Murray will play the fire chief

  • FLFF

    "Hi.  I'm a Paid Professional, Career Service Combat Fire Fighter with the Kilgore Fire Department and damn, look at that.  I've got a run in my nylons."

    The Doobie Brothers song says it all…. "What a fool believes, he sees…"

  • PR

    Unions in Texas…if they exist…have no power.  This is a joke.  FD has just become groundskeepers and the fire chief is the head grass cutter.  God help Kilgore residents…the FD will show up at your emergency if a golf cart.

  • Mack Seagrave

    If the FIRE chief (not catering manager) were running the fire department correctly, there would be no time for FIREFIGHTERS to do the job of maintenance people, bar tenders, waiters, etc. The FIREFIGHTERS would either be training, testing hydrants, conducting building inspections, responding to fires and other emergencies or taking a well deserved rest before the next alarm. Firefighters need to be ready (physically and mentally) at all times to perform the dangerous, difficult, life saving functions that are required of them. I can only hope that this story is a hoax.

  • Mark

    yea, but they get to play golf for free off duty……

  • Legeros

    Mind if I play through?

    Does make you think about special-other-duties-as-assigned from back in the day, from police/fire officers to, say, the town sign shop housed in a fire station and operated by firefighters.

    Where else is this happening these days? It's one way to confront budgetary limitations in these tough times, I guess.


  • fyrecapt


    Sounds like a great trade off….NOT

    I will gladly pay the course fee to not be a maintenance worker

  • Blake

    How about this bench mark….let's say " go gettem guys" show the city how effecient you are at running a dieing project into a great thing for your community. Your heros, you have no impression that your above doing whatever it takes. Show that your valued and not a victim of a budget cut. Show them that you'll work hard, smile and shake hands knowing that in the long run your work will pay off. When your city sees you succeed at running this golf course, they will know they have a department that they will be proud to support. Thank you Kilgore Fire Department for being humble. Your leaders are not trying to degrade you.  

    Thank you, and show them what success truly is!

  • Bobby

    At my department, we mow grass, edge and weed. We clean city hall, we help the water department, we fix tea and coffee for city leaders, we host events and clean the streets after.  I can't believe so many are being two faced. If your department Isn't wasting tax dollars then you wear many hats.  You are expendable, fire departments get cut every year. Sounds like the Kilgore Trxas chief is saving job….adding them even. 

  • Former Chief

    Looking at the Kilgore, TX website, this is a relatively small town.  15 square miles with a population of around 14,000.  The FD has 42 Firefighters running three shifts out of three stations so I'm guessing 12 or 13 on duty personnel per shift depending on the number of "administrative" staff.  I don't know if they do EMS transport, there really isn't a lot of information explaining the operations of their department.  I can't imagine their call volume is that large.  I guess if the Chief and Firefighters feel this is a good situation for them, then so be it.  But as some have mentioned here, are they doing everything as a fire department that they could / should be doing.  And my bigger concern is that other City Managers and eleceted officials will use this program to abuse their respective FD's.  I suspect there are more FD's who are understaffed and overworked than this particular FD.  I'm all for being a "team player" in the community, but too often, the managers of the teams don't take care of their players.

  • Bill5508

    That’s about as smart as DC posting in high crime areas. Send FF Cruz out there permanantly.