Preston Volunteer Emergency Services was first incorporated in 1969. PVES was created by the community to meet the fire fighting and emergency transport needs of the community and has a 40 year history of service. Fire protection to the Preston Peninsula was once provided by the volunteer fire department of Pottsboro. In February 1969 Joe Covey, Eddie Collier, and R.E. Bradbury considered the long response time for fire fighters to reach the Preston area, the growth of the area with new homes, and the increasing number of new businesses and with the support of the community started the Volunteer Fire Department. In addition to Covey, Collier, and Bradbury, the original founders included Virgil Polk, Preston Parks, Ernest O’Neal, Louis Sanders, Leon Volcik, H.G. Chesser, Don Wester, Jake Reder and Jerry Moore.
One of the first articles regarding PVES appeared in The Shore Line Paper on October 12, 1973. The many dedicated volunteers and supporters of this community should be praised and thanked for continuing this legacy in order to respond to the medical and fire emergenciesof those living in and visiting this area.
Working out of the workshop behind Joe Covey’s house, the group organized and incorporated as a non-profit, non-stock, and tax exempt corporation – Preston Peninsula Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., the predecessor of the current Preston Volunteer Emergency Services, Inc. Through donations, the department bought a 1939 model truck retired by the Sherman Fire Department. It was called “Old Rattler” because it did rattle. Collier was quoted saying that the “Generals” made it to the fire, but often had to be towed back. Volunteers solicited donations of $3.00 to pay for gas to run the trucks. The trucks were housed at Eddie Collier’s service station on F.M. 120. The phone at his station, sometimes referred to as “eddieville” and later “The Place” would get a fire call, and a station employee would call a list of volunteers while Collier started the truck and sounded the siren. Later, Southwestern Bell installed phones in a few homes to speed up the response time.
The first board of directors in 1973 were Bob Roberts, President; Gerald Peddicord, VP; Joanna Roberts, Secretary; Wilson Atteberry, J.E. Clement, Weaver Smith, Herb Wilson, Ross Riggs and E.W. Bruce.
Next, two “Detroit Generals”, 1951 and 1953 models were purchased from the Dallas Fire Department with a recommendation from the Dallas Assistant Fire Chief, Jacky Walton. Again, donations, barbecues, and bake sales provided the funding.
In 1976, through the efforts of then Fire Chief Bob Roberts, retired from the Dallas Fire Department, and his active wife Joanna Roberts, a converted station wagon was used as an ambulance. The first certified EMT was Sue Martin. This was the beginning of the free ambulance service on Preston Peninsula.
In the early 1980’s, Grayson County Commissioners Court began a minor subsidy for all county fire departments and all ambulance services within the county. An annual contract between the county and each individual emergency service organization provides for fixed quarterly payments based on area and population served, in return each organization provides primary services in its territory. Sherman, Denison, Pottsboro, and PVES have reciprocal agreements for mutual aid and participate in area wide disaster planning.
In November, 1980, Ray and Kay Fritts carved out the most attractive acre of several, fronting on FM120 North and sold it to PVES. Two years later in 1982, with $20,000 in funds borrowed from a Denison Bank, the current building (though smaller then) was constructed by Monitor, Inc. of Sherman. After multiple expansions, today, the station is a single story building containing approximately 5,600 square feet and housing 5 vehicle bays, modern sleeping rooms, one shower, 3 bathrooms, 4 administrative offices, lockers with washer-dryer, kitchen, meeting/training area, volunteer office, and storage area. All is now debt free.
Originally part of the Pottsboro fire district, in 1986 PVES became an independent fire district covering 38 square miles of the Peninsula south of FM 406 and Georgetown Road and west to and including Russwood-On-Texoma. The organization raised $60,000 to purchase a 1500 gallon super tanker fire truck. The ambulance district covers 96 square miles and three fire districts, Preston, Pottsboro, and Locust. In 1986, PVES provided free ambulance service to the three fire districts and agreed that all three districts would respond to all structure fires in any of the districts.
Over the years, PVES has continued to grow and change to meet the evolving needs of the community. Since 1998, the population of our service area has grown with increases in both permanent residents and visitors. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers current figures show over one million yearly visitors to the PVES service area. The PVES service area includes 5 marinas and twelve youth camps. PVES has added a second Fire station in Cambridge Shores (2001), and added more equipment and trained staff to meet the growing need for emergency, fire, and rescue services.
The PVES Fire Department, all volunteers, constantly train to provide superior fire service. With the exception of first year probational firefighters, all PVES firefighters are trained to the requirements of and certified by the “Texas State Fireman’s and Fire Marshals Association” and /or the “Texas Commission on Fire Protection”. Probational firefighters are in the training program during the first year. All firefighters attend ongoing training classes and further education classes to achieve higher certification. Through the training of personnel and the fire equipment available the organization obtained, and continues to maintain, an Insurance Service Office rating of ISO-5. The ISO rating is a statewide fire rating system that is used in determining insurance rates. PVES is one of a very few rural fire organizations to achieve an ISO-5 rating. An ISO rating of 5 significantly lowers home owner and business fire insurance rates. Of the many factors that determine the rating, equipment is a major element. The current equipment owned by PVES include a Ladder Truck which is required to bring our ISO rating to an ISO 5. In addition, PVES currently has 2 MICU Ambulance’s, 3 Fire Engines, 1 Grass Truck, 1 Rapid Attack Rescue Truck, 1 Rescue Truck, 1 Tanker Truck and 1 Command Vehicle, bringing the total number of department vehicles to 11. PVES must maintain, add to and upgrade our equipment to retain the ISO 5 rating.
In 2004 PVES converted to a fully paid, 24/7 emergency medical services teams (EMS) with an EMS Director. We currently employ 5 fulltime and 18 part-time EMS personnel. PVES bills for ambulance service, but transportation is never denied because of inability to pay. These unreimbursed expenses are paid for through vigorous fund raising and the generous giving or our supportive community.
The PVES ambulance service participates in local disaster planning and response for our area including Sherman, Denison, Pottsboro and Locust. An example of providing support outside our primary district, PVES ambulance crews responded to the mutual aid call to assist with EMS care for people injured in the large bus accident in Sherman in August 2008. This coordinated mutual aid resulted in rapid response and effective, efficient transportation of the injured. Not only does PVES ambulance service participate in local disaster planning and response, we also participate at the state and national levels, coordinated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For example, in 2008, at the request of the State of Texas, PVES sent the second ambulance and crew to transport patients from hurricane damaged areas along the Texas coast . Our primary ambulance and crew continued to provide EMS coverage to our service area.
In December of 2007, local dispatch was turned over to Grayson County dispatch. This change allows for county wide coordination of emergency response, an especially important capability in case of national disaster or terrorism. During extreme conditions, PVES dispatch can be activated with reserve dispatchers.
As can be seen with this brief historical narrative, PVES has flourished through the past 40+ years and continues to enjoy the robust support of the community as evidenced by our many volunteers who give generously of their time and energy and as well as through the financial support of our various fundraising events.
Here are just a few PVES Volunteers in our “Hall of Fame” – Joe Covey, Bill Beaty, Jacky Walton, Willie Slayden, Fred Morley, Scott Greenwood, Opal Blocker, Herbert Beecham, Ray & Rhonda Scoggins, Eddie Collier, Don Wester, Sue Martin, Lennie Lassard, Bob Umphress, Ray Fritts, Bob Burns, Lester Harris, R.E. Bradbury, Bob & Joanna Roberts, Alvis Sinclair, Junior Wade, Jerry Peddicord, Wilma Sampson, Rubye Bennett, Arley Cotton.