Texas City Sues Fire Department Over Apparatus Titles

The City of Howardwick, Texas has filed suit against the Howardwick Volunteer Fire Department to prevent the fire department from placing the titles and registrations for its apparatus in the fire department’s name. The suit was filed last week in Donley County District Court.

The fire department, which according to the complaint appears to have operated for decades as a municipal agency, was issued its own corporate charter in March, 2018. In February, 2019 the fire department began transferring title to its apparatus from the city to the fire department. The city became aware of the title transfers and filed suit accusing the fire department of conversion (a fancy way of saying they took something that was not theirs) and unjust enrichment. Citing concerns over lack of insurance coverage the city also sought a temporary restraining order.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

Here is a copy of a press release issued by the city:

More including video news coverage from KFDA News Channel 10.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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