Alief, located in southwest Houston, was first settled by rice farmers and dairy producers
In 1861, the area we know today as greater Alief, located in southwest Houston, was first settled by rice farmers and dairy producers. This area, at the head waters of Brays bayou, was called Dairy Station in 1861. In 1894, a young dentist named John Magee and his wife, Mrs. Alief Magee joined the other 25 families in Dairy Station where doctor Magee set up a dental practice. In 1895, Mrs. Alief Magee was awarded the position of post mistress by the US Postal service. She operated the post office out of her home in a room just off the front porch. The area’s postal district was named Alief, a name which is still in use today. Alief was now on the map.
The next milestone for the “village” of Alief occurred in 1911 when the Alief Independent School District was chartered. As the area’s population continued to grow over the next forty plus years, in 1954 the State of Texas issued a non-profit charter to create the Alief Volunteer Fire Department. The charter was granted for a fifty year term. The fire department was to provide service to the village of Alief within a two mile radius from the Alief Independent School District’s school house, the current Youens Elementary school. Eventually, the Alief Volunteer Fire Department built a fire station at the corner of C street and Alief Clodine road. They served an initial population of about 200 people.
As the area continued to grow and the quiet farming village of Alief was quickly transformed by the early 1970s into a suburban bedroom community of Houston, many residents of the new subdivisions felt that the Alief Volunteer Fire Department was not able to adapt to the growing needs of the area. As such, on April 12, 1971, George M. Karam filed Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of the State of Texas to create a non-profit corporation known as the Community Protection Agency also known as CPA .
As part of the filing, the stated purpose of the Community Protection Agency (CPA) was to “provide civic services in the nature of fire protection, emergency ambulance or rescue services, police protection services, health and general welfare services and related services to the residents of Alief, Harris County Texas and the immediate surrounding areas which are not provided like services by a municipal or other governmental entity”. On that same day in April 1971, the Community Volunteer Fire Department was created.
While the department did not have a fire station to call home, a fire truck was loaned to the department by the City of Houston Fire Department, the beginning of a relationship with HFD that carries on into the present day. The fire engine was parked at an Arco gasoline station at the corner of Bellaire & Wilcrest. The early boundaries of the department were Wilcrest to the east, Bellaire Blvd to the north, Cook Road to the west and Bissonnet to the south. Soon after the fire engine was delivered, Community VFD responded to its first call in June 1971.
Along with the loaned fire truck, the City of Houston Fire Department offered basic training for the small cadre of Community volunteers who made up the dept. Training took place both in CVFD’s territory as well as at HFD’s training facility south of Hobby Airport, known today as the Val Jahnke Fire Training Facility.
Next, the Community Volunteer Fire Department recognized the need to build a fire station to call home. The members began a door to door drive and asked residents to provide a $12.00 donation per year to fund the building of a station. Thanks to the Alief Independent School District, land was set aside on a tract located at the corner of Boone Road and Bissonnet that was owned by the school district. Today, that same site is on the grounds of Olle Middle School.
On November 28, 1971, after numerous weekends and many long nights, an open house was held to celebrate the completion of the station. Future funding of operations for the department came from a $3.00 optional donation on residential water bills. A year later, in November of 1972, the Alief Volunteer Fire Department was dissolved and its assets, including its station on C Street and Alief Clodine Road were donated to the Community Protection Agency. At this point, the Community Volunteer Fire Department’s territory greatly expanded. The dissolution of Alief VFD had the effect of merging the two departments. The combined entities were now known as the Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department. In July 1973, recognizing the need for additional services, CPA through the Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department began to offer Emergency Medical Services and put its first ambulance in service, staffed by the existing fire fighters in the department.
This is a service that continues to this day. 911 calls for emergency medical service comprise the vast bulk of our run volume. Today, CVFD runs five Advance Life Support ambulances responding to over 6,000 calls annually. In 1976, the Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department took another progressive step in its evolution. Realizing that the area was becoming a bedroom community of commuters, many of whom worked in the city of Houston, it became apparent that there were not enough volunteers in the area during the day to adequately provide services. It was at this point that the board of the Community Protection Agency hired its first paid “Day Crew” to staff the fire station at C Street and Alief Clodine Road. The paid staff, made up mostly from the ranks of the city of Houston Fire Department, would cover the station from 6:00am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday. This is an arrangement that continues to this day.
This far sighted action by the CPA board created the “combination” department that we are today. This staffing model is used by most of the volunteer fire departments in the greater Houston area. Funding for the paid Day Crew came from the donations collected on local water bills as well as the fees collected from the ambulance service. In 1977, the City of Houston continued its westward expansion via its powers of annexation, granted to it by the Texas legislature. At this point, the City annexed the eastern end of the Alief area between Gessner and Wilcrest.
Houston Fire Department Station 73 was commissioned and operated out of the Alief Community Volunteer Fire department station located at Bissonnet and Boone Road, the very station built by the volunteers in 1971. This arrangement lasted for several months while the City built the current home of HFD Station 73 on Wilcrest south of Bissonnet. In the late 1970s and early 1980s. the suburban sprawl that Houston would become famous for continued westward into the Mission Bend subdivision. The Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department moved west as well.
Again, with a land donation / deal with the Alief Independent School District, the Department built a new fire station on Alief Clodine Road west of State Highway 6, adjacent to Albright Middle School. Headquarters operations, including dispatch, and the Chief’s quarters were moved to the new station from C Street. The Station was designated as Station 1 and the Day Crew moved their operations there as well.
In 1984, the City of Houston annexed additional territory which included the remaining areas of greater Alief westward to Synott Road south of Beechnut and west to Eldridge Road north of Beechnut. The Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department Station 2 located on C Street was now contained in the boundaries of the City of Houston. However, the C Street location was still staffed by volunteers during all volunteer shifts for the next 26 years until new quarters were built and commissioned for Station 2 in 2010.
Station 2 is now located within the boundaries of Community Volunteer’s response area at Hemlock Hill Lane, just north of Beechnut and is once again staffed with a Day Crew. Recognizing that the Alief Community Volunteer Fire Department was now providing services to a very small portion of what remained of unincorporated Alief after Houston’s annexations, in 1985 the Department’s named changed once again to the Community Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD).
Up until 1998, the department’s funding model was still dependent on the $3.00 donation on residential water bills and income from the Department’s ambulance service. But as call volume increased and donations decreased, another source of funding was required. Fortunately, the Texas Legislature had the solution. Back in the mid 1960s, the Texas Legislature passed legislation that brought into being entities known as Rural Fire Protection Districts (RFPDs). These were taxing authorities that were comprised of a five person elected board. These board members were known as commissioners.
The RFPDs were allowed to asses a 3 ₵ tax per $100 of appraised value of all properties within the district that were not tax exempt. The funds were to be used to provide fire protection in unincorporated areas of Texas. By the mid 1990s, the Texas legislature replaced the RFPDs with Emergency Service Districts (ESDs), so as to include emergency medical services.
These ESDs were still managed by elected commissioners. The tax rate that was allowed went as high as 10 ₵ per $100 of appraised valuation for all eligible properties. EDSs are governed under the State of Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 775.
Realizing that there had to be a better way to fund the Community Volunteer Fire Department, local citizens filed a petition with the State to create an ESD for the territory protected by the Community Volunteer Fire Department. An election was held in 1997 and Harris / Ft. Bend County Emergency Services District 100 was born.
For the first time since its humble beginnings in 1971, CVFD was going to be placed on a secure and stable financial footing. Today, through the tireless work of the Commissioners of Harris / Ft. Bend County ESD 100, the Community Volunteer Fire Department is a modern tax supported emergency services response agency bringing forward the latest in fire suppression and heavy rescue technology & equipment as well as state of the art emergency medical services.
In 2003, Harris / Ft. Bend County ESD 100 commissioned a new fire station, CVFD Station 3 located just east of Mason Road on FM 1093 ( the feeder road of the Westpark Tollway ). This facility represents the continued westward development of Harris county and expansion beyond FM 1464 in Ft. Bend county.
In 2005, due predominantly to road improvements being made along Alief Clodine Road in front of Station 1, the facility would no longer be able to function as a fire station. The Commissioners of Harris/Ft.Bend County ESD 100 recognized this issue quickly and they approved funding for a new Station 1 located on Bellaire Blvd, west of Addicks –Clodine Road in the heart of Mission Bend.
The new station became the headquarters building for the Chief of the Department as well as our central dispatch center. The move also provided the Department with an opportunity to upgrade its dispatch capabilities to a state of the art computer assisted dispatch (CAD) system complete with computer mapping systems placed in every emergency vehicle and apparatus in the Department’s fleet.
The “old Station 1” has now been re-purposed as our training center and is still in use in that capacity. Today, with the support of the Commissioners of Harris / Ft. Bend County ESD 100, the Community Protection Agency through the Community Volunteer Fire Department can continue to accomplish the mission that it was created to perform.
Our motto of neighbors helping neighbors is as relevant today as it was in April 1971. We serve a diverse urban / suburban population of just over 108,000 with a dedicated staff of well trained and capable volunteers as well as support from our paid Day Crews. All three of our stations are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. In 2014, we responded to 7,076 calls for service with the skills and professionalism that our neighbors deserve.