Ala. fire chief: New station will be needed to decrease response times
Response times could force the city to build a new fire station sooner rather than later, Fire Chief Tony Grande said
By Bayne Hughes
DECATUR, Ala. — Response times to the Southwest Decatur area around the new Austin High School could force the city to build a new fire station sooner rather than later, Fire Chief Tony Grande said Tuesday.
Grande told the City Council in its second day of fiscal 2019 budget reviews that it took his crew from Fire Station No. 5 on Danville Road Southwest seven minutes to respond to a fire near the school on Modaus Road.
Council President Paige Bibbee pointed out that more subdivisions are expected to follow the new school.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re stretching our people’s capabilities,” Bibbee said. She asked if the council could simply relocate Station No. 5.
The problem is the city can’t move Station 5 more than a quarter of a mile to the west because that would impact response times in the other directions, the chief said.
“We’re already spread out, and this is our busiest area,” Grande said. “Response times should be no longer than four to six minutes.”
Grande said he has looked at possible properties on Danville Road and Modaus Road for a new station, and “all of them had their challenges.” A station has to be on a major arterial road, he said.
The chief has said in the past that a plan is needed to replace its stations and add a station in the city’s annexed area of Limestone County. He estimated a new fire station would cost about $2.3 million, while a land purchase would cost about $900,000.
Grande said council will have to choose the area, whether it’s near the new Austin school or north of the Tennessee River, that grows more when it decides which new fire station to build first.
“The area north of the river will likely start growing quickly while the area near the high school will likely be more gradual,” Grande said.
The chief said Station 5 is the smallest and oldest of the city’s eight fire stations and needs to be replaced. Bibbee said there is adjacent land available.
However, Grande said he would rather buy a $512,000 firetruck to replace Engine No. 5 this year than start building a new Fire Station No. 5. It would take about 10 months to have a new firetruck delivered while it would take about two years to build a new fire station, he said.
“Our firefighters love Engine No. 5, but it’s 17 years old, and we’re spending a lot of money keeping it going,” Grande said.
Copyright 2018 Decatur Daily