The Somervell County Fire Department should become more secure — as well as better equipped — as a result of action taken Monday by County Commissioners.

By a unanimous vote (5-0), commissioners voted to approve a digital badge key lock system for doors at the SCFD fire station. The cost, including installation, was given as $15,494. The county had already sset aside more than enough — a total of $25,000 to be available for security improvements — in the current budget.

“It gives us several options we didn’t have (before),” SCFD Fire Chief Mark Crawford told commissioners.

Crawford explained that one benefit will be that any card issued can be deactivated whenever necessary, such as when an employee quits or is terminated from the job.

Crawford noted that the fire station has some expensive equipment, some of which could be hauled off by a single intruder. He also recalled that some thefts have occurred at the station in years past.

“I think this is a good system for protecting the county’s assets,” Crawford stated.

Earlier in the meeting, Crawford addressed commissioners on the topic of accepting a $20,000 matching grant from the state of Texas, which will be used toward purchase of new fire hose and rescue equipment for the station. Crawford noted that the county will have six months to spend the grant money.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to approve purchase of a new chemical sprayer rig for $35,000, already budgeted, for use the the county-owned Squaw Valley Golf Course.

Several relatively minor purchases for the Sheriff’s Office, also accounted for in the budget previously, were approved, 5-0.

The commissioners voted (5-0) to approve a resolution to designate the period leading up to Labor Day, from Feb. 28 through March 2, as legal dates to sell fireworks within the county. Previously, only dates prior to July 4 and New Year’s Day were legal times to sell fireworks in Somervell County.

Earlier during Monday’s meeting, two members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart were on hand to present the commissioners with a metal sign that indicates Somervell County is a designated by their organization as a Purple Heart county. The sign features a representation of George Washington’s shield.

Jon Lunkwicz, senior vice commander, and Gus Wittschack, Chapter 15 commander, presented the sign. Lunkwicz is from Farmers Branch and Wittschack resides in Cross Roads, a small town near Denton. Lunkwicz said that the county was nominated anonymously, and it joined all but two other counties (Ellis and Navarro) in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area to have the designation.