Chief Al Sterkx of the Demi-John Volunteer Fire Department has turned in his resignation effective June 30. Sterkx said he made the decision to leave after a long series of disputes with commissioners from the Brazoria County Emergency Service District No. 3 regarding best practices in the provision of fire services to his community. 

“Considering my fire experience, training and education, I knew that as long as I lived in the area I would feel an obligation to serve the community as an emergency responder. Finally after a number of very disappointing meetings with an ESD commissioner and the county commissioner who appointed him, I came to the conclusion that further attempts to participate in efforts to sway the ESD path toward the volunteer fire departments’ preferred future direction would be fruitless and needlessly stressful,” Sterkx said in an email. 

Sterkx also said the inadequate EMS service to Demi-John places himself and his family in “life-risk of delayed emergency medical care” and told The Alvin Sun & Advertiser that an ambulance recently took 25 minutes to reach Demi-John when a long-time friend and neighbor broke a hip, with no tone out to the fire department to provide swift temporary assistance before the arrival of EMT’s from the neighboring community. 

That's a system that Sterkx has been fighting in favor of for months. 

Brian Owens, director of administration for the district, said the district has sent letters to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office dispatch instructing that the Demi-John Volunteer Fire Department be toned out for immediate basic assistance in the event of medical emergencies in the area, but the incident involving Sterkx’s friend happened before the plan was put into action. 

“That particular incident came in between all the negotiating and kind of the back and forth that was happening, but the letter has been received by the sheriff’s office,” Owens said. 

Sterkx began his career in firefighting in 2001 after having moved to Demi-John in 1996 and later became assistant chief of the Eastex Fire Department, where he remains. 

He was one of the first commissioners of Brazoria County Emergency Service District No. 3 after its creation in 2003 and admits that some of the changes currently being attempted by the district are things he was in favor of as a commissioner, before gaining first-hand experience as a firefighter at both Demi-John and Eastex. 

In light of his experience on both sides of the table, Sterkx said the commissioners currently have a disconnect with the volunteers. 

Sterkx said the district has repeatedly postponed providing him its decision on whether it will assist in an administrative capacity to allow for the Demi- John Volunteer Fire Department to hire one full-time paid employee to staff the station during the day. 

Sterkx said the delay is despite the department having a surplus of saved money that would provide for the employee’s salary for years. 

Sterkx is selling his home in the Demi-John area and said Brazoria County Emergency Service District No. 3 has won against him, though he hopes to see others continue the fight for a district that is more receptive to the views and requests of its volunteers. 

Assistant Chief Alan Funderburk, who has been a member of the Demi-John Volunteer Fire Department since 1976, will be taking over as chief. 

Sterkx also said the inadequate EMS service to Demi-John places himself and his family in “life-risk of delayed emergency medical care” and told The Alvin Sun & Advertiser that an ambulance recently took 25 minutes to reach Demi-John when a long-time friend and neighbor broke a hip, with no tone out to the fire department to provide swift temporary assistance before the arrival of EMT’s from the neighboring community. 

That's a system that Sterkx has been fighting in favor of 

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