New fire station would provide better service
Recently, the City Council approved to put on the November general election ballot a request for a half-cent sales tax to build a new fire/rescue station. As you will later read we have many challenges with our current fire/rescue station, which is in the basement of the City Auditorium. Essentially what we would like to do with voter approval is issue bonds to build a new fire/rescue station and use the sales tax to pay off the bond. So if I spend $100 on an item that has sales tax on it I will end up paying an additional 50 cents in sales tax. Once the bonds are payed off the half-cent sales tax is required by law to end.
From 1909-1965 the fire station was located at Fifth and Market streets. In 1965, we moved into the basement of the City Auditorium as a temporary location. The Beatrice Rural Fire Department is housed with us as well.
A couple of years ago we found a copy of the remodel blueprints to convert the basement of the City Auditorium into the fire station. In the blue print in the apparatus bay was designed to hold five fire apparatus. Today we house five ambulances, two fire engines, one ladder truck, one rescue/extrication truck, one hazardous materials truck, one chase car, and an air trailer. Beatrice Rural houses a pumper, a grass rig, and a tanker inside the station as well. This is a total of 14 vehicles for an area that was originally designed to house five vehicles.
Currently one of our biggest challenges that we face in responding to incidents is vehicle placement in the apparatus bay. The vehicles that respond the most often are placed in locations for easy exit of the building. This would be two ambulances, the chase car, and a fire engine. The rest are stacked two deep and off set from the garage doors. We also have two large pillars that we have to drive around. For example when we responded to a hazardous materials call, which we had 62 in 2017, to get the hazardous materials truck we need to move four other vehicles. While this is our most extreme example the need of any vehicle that is not first out requires the moving of one to two additional vehicle for it to respond. This is not a great way for us to respond, but we have adapted to the area we have so we can do business. All of this has an adverse effect on our turnout time, which is the time it takes from the time we are dispatched, travel to the response vehicle, put on our gear and respond.
Another challenge currently and in the future is that the vehicles respond in don’t seem to get smaller. The fire engines, ladder trucks and ambulances are getting bigger all the time. This trend does not appear to stopping anytime soon.
These challenges could be solved with a new fire station, which in turn provides you a better service. It would have an adequate sized apparatus bay leaving plenty of space between vehicles. We would not have to have vehicles stacked three or four deep and offset from the door. This in turn would allow the proper vehicle to respond without us having to four vehicles out of the way. With a quicker turnout time we will be able to respond to your emergency faster and more efficiently to help you in your time of need.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding the fire/rescue station. We would also come speak to any group that would like to know more. Be on the lookout for open house dates, meetings, and additional information on the challenges in the current fire/rescue station.