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WAXAHACHIE (CBS 11 NEWS) – Going into an emergency meeting, the future of the Emergency Services District No. 6 volunteer fire department in Ellis County was up in the air.

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At the second emergency meeting in a week, the ESD 6 board, which oversees the department, decided not to disband the volunteer department. Ellis Co. officials plan to keep the department operating for another 90 days.

At the meeting the board is also expected to discuss appointing an interim chief.

Changes for the volunteer fire department come one week after seven firefighters, more than one quarter of the department, were arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a new recruit. Five firefighters are charged with the alleged assault.

Both volunteer fire Chief Gavin Satterfield and Assistant Chief Billy Getzendaner are charged with tampering with evidence — essentially accused of trying to cover-up the incident.

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Brittany Leanne Parten, one of the firefighter’s girlfriends, is the eighth person charged. She is accused of recording the assault on her cell phone.

Gary Gentry, a resident who’s lived in Ellis County for more than 30 years, says county leaders should no longer rely on volunteers. “That should be a professional department. Nothing like that should have ever happened to start with,” he said. “In drought situations we’ve been in, we need something like that there’ve been more fires in the last couple of years. There’ve been burn bans, but they’ve still had fires.”

Another resident I spoke with off-camera says he wants the ESD-6 to remain a volunteer department and to keep the station in its existing location, off FM 66, just outside the city of Waxahachie.

In the short-term, fire departments from neighboring cities have increased their assistance and are automatically responding to fire calls in Emergency Services District No. 6 to keep everyone safe. The chiefs of those departments are attending the emergency meeting, and may speak during the meeting.

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