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Burnet County ESD No. 9 bulking up Spicewood-area fire protection

Spicewood Fire Rescue Chief Sam Stacks

Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 9 announced the hiring of Sam Stacks as part-time fire chief for Spicewood Fire Rescue. Stacks was the Spicewood fire marshal for the past 18 months and was a 24-year member of Marble Falls Fire Rescue. File photo

With Texas 71 cutting through Spicewood and growth from Austin edging into the Burnet County community, Emergency Services District No. 9 is making changes to move toward 24-7 protection in the area.

The district recently hired Sam Stacks as part-time fire chief for Spicewood Fire Rescue. Stacks has served as the Spicewood fire marshal for 18 months and has a lengthy firefighting career, including more than two decades with Marble Falls Fire Rescue.

The ESD is also adding five paid part-time firefighters to help the department’s volunteers.  

“After an extensive application and interview process, we were delighted to have Sam emerge as the lead candidate for the fire chief position,” said Bruce Mills, ESD No. 9 board president. “He is well known and respected in the community, knows our department, has good rapport with the firefighters along with the qualifications and certifications required for the position.”

As Stacks assumes the chief role, the district is seeking a new fire marshal.

ESD No. 9 encompasses about 50 square miles of southeast Burnet County, which has more than 12,000 residents. The district also includes a stretch of heavily traveled Texas 71.

In 2013, residents approved the creation of the Emergency Services District. One of its first projects was building the EMS station adjacent to Spicewood Elementary School on Spur 191 and contracting with Marble Falls Area EMS to staff the facility. 

The ESD contracts with Spicewood Fire Rescue (formerly the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department-EMS) to provide fire protection and other emergency services. The ESD also helps the department purchase equipment and fund training.

Since the creation of the ESD, board members have focused on improving fire and EMS protection in the area. While volunteers remain a key component of the department, the additional part-time firefighters can cover times when volunteers are not available. 

“Like many communities in the Hill Country, Burnet County ESD 9 and Spicewood Fire Rescue (have) the challenge of rapid population growth,” Stacks said. “As call volumes increase, we are finding it necessary to hire part-time firefighters to assist with coverage during the work week hours while still relying on our dedicated team of volunteers for complete coverage during evenings and weekends. We are fortunate to have a strong group of 15 or so firefighters and first responders but are always looking for more people to join the department.”

Karen Bruett, who is the board’s commissioner and former president, pointed out that hiring Stacks didn’t happen overnight. She credited David Bailey, interim fire chief and district administrator, for helping guide all involved during the past 18 months. 

“He assisted us through a difficult transition during the COVID-19 pandemic and has prepared the department for the growth and change that is inevitable as the district’s population continues to grow,” she said. “Under his leadership, Sam Stacks was brought on board to serve as the district’s first fire marshal, a job that not only familiarized him with the ESD 9 district but also with the volunteer firefighters and the operations of the department.”

If you are interested in volunteering for Spicewood Fire Rescue or applying for a part-time paid position, contact the department at 830-693-7136 or visit the ESD No. 9 webpage