190814-new-arson-trailer

The trailer will help the fire marshal’s office determine whether a fire was arson.

LEAGUE CITY

A mobile trailer parked outside Fire Station No. 2 represents months of filing grant applications by the city fire marshal’s office, and officials hope it will one day be a regional asset for arson and other investigations.

“Even if one of the other places would have been willing to lend us a trailer during Hurricane Harvey, we couldn’t have gotten it here,” Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff Allen said. “The hope is that, by having this in the area, we will fill that void that’s currently between Houston and Galveston for something like this.”

Fire marshal’s office administrators received a shiny, new command mobile trailer about a week or so ago, the end result of a process that began when officials appeared before the city council more than a year ago asking permission to apply for a grant that would fund the mobile office, Allen said.

Though the trailer’s arrival is a tangible result of those efforts, administrators have now divided the project into a two-phase process before officially rolling the trailer out for active use, Allen said.

The city initially applied for homeland security grants worth almost $200,000 but didn’t receive the full funding, Fire Marshal Tommy Cones told the council in February.

Instead, the office purchased the trailer for about $79,000 in grant funding and is now waiting to hear results on a second round of grant funding before proceeding with the second phase of the project, outfitting the trailer with the electronics necessary for a wide range of uses, Allen said.

“Basically, what we have right now is the trailer and the interior built out, as far as a conference table, a desk, counters and cabinets and all the woodwork-type stuff,” Allen said.

“It is available, and we could use it,” Allen said. “But so far, we have not had an incident, fortunately, where we’ve needed it. Even now, it has air conditioning in it, so it could be a cool place for emergency responders to go and cool down, if nothing else.”

Once finally complete, the arson command trailer will have an interview room, areas for computers and other technology and space to take specialized equipment and tools to the scene of fires and chemical and hazmat spills, Allen said.

City officials could also use the mobile trailer during major events like concerts and parades, Allen said.

Before purchasing its own trailer, League City had previously borrowed from surrounding departments, including ones in Harris County and Pearland, Allen said. Administrators hope League City’s new trailer will serve a similar community purpose for other cities in Galveston County.

“It will be available for deployment in other jurisdictions, if needed,” Allen said. “If Galveston County, for instance, wanted it use it for something, if they provided notice, we would bring it out there and set it up.”

The marshal’s office responds to about 30 fires per month, ranging in size from dumpster fires to house and grass fires, though Allen said the office wouldn’t necessarily bring the trailer out to every investigation.

City code requires the department to investigate every fire within the city limits to determine whether it was arson, officials have said.

Administrators should hear back on the second round of grant funding by the end of September, Allen said. Assuming they receive enough money, they will then hope to send the trailer out for second-phase improvements before the end of 2019.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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