Frequently Asked Questions

An Emergency Services District is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, similar to a School District, Library District or Hospital District.

Depending on the ESD’s creation documents, an ESD can provide fire protection, emergency medical services or both.

ESDs are created through a “grassroots” effort:

  • A petition signed by at least 100 voters in the proposed district must be presented to the County Commissioners Court in the county (or counties) in which the ESD is intended to exist.
  • If the ESD is deemed feasible and necessary by the Commissioners Court, an election is called in which the voters in the proposed District must elect to create the District.
  • If a majority of the votes are cast in favor of creation, the District is created.

A board of five commissioners governs ESDs. In most counties in Texas, the County Commissioners Court appoints the commissioners to two-year terms.

  • ESDs are allowed to levy ad valorem (property) tax. The Texas Constitution states that ESDs may tax up to $0.10 per $100 of property valuation. The ESD’s creation documents establish the district’s initial tax rate.
  • ESDs may also collect sales tax, provided an election is held and voters approve this power. In Texas, 8.25% is the maximum allowed sales tax rate. The state collects 6.25%, leaving 2% available to eligible local jurisdictions, including ESDs. An ESD may collect anywhere from .125% to 2% of the local sales tax rate depending on availability and subject to voter approval.
  • ESDs are also allowed to bill for services provided, such as emergency medical services or fire protection, if it so chooses.

By law, ESD boards must meet at least once a month. All meetings are subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act. ESDs must also comply with the Texas Public Information Act concerning open records requests and records retention.

Unless the ESD falls under an exception, ESDs are required by law to file an audit with their County Commissioners Court by June 1 of each year. If the audit is not filed by Sept. 1, the President and Treasurer of the ESD board are automatically removed from their offices.

If an ESD meets certain requirements, it may be allowed to file certified financial statements instead of an audit. This exception exists for smaller ESDs that would have difficulty affording an exhaustive audit process.

Please visit our contact us page to submit a Public Information Request. 

Yes, each commissioner must complete at least 6 hours of certified training in a two-year period.

While ESDs are established by Article 48-e of the Texas Constitution, Chapter 775 of the Texas Health and Safety Code is the enabling statute for all ESDs. ESDs are required by law to file an Annual Report with the Texas Department of Agriculture by January 1st of each year.

Currently there are more than 300 ESDs in Texas, and more added at almost every uniform election date.

No. While many ESDs contract with or support all-volunteer departments, many others support full career or combination (career and volunteer) departments.


24655 Westheimer Parkway
Katy, TX 77494


26950 Cinco Ranch Boulevard
Katy, TX 77494


2700 Spring Green Boulevard
Katy, TX 77494


Founded in 2003, Willowfork Fire Department has 25 full time and 60 part time personnel providing 24-hour daily coverage. Learn about our history and staff.