Fire station debated

Different ideas emerge on how station should take shape

DALLAS -- Dallas City Council members voted 8 to 2 in favor of asking citizens for a bond levy to pursue a new police station and a fire station remodel.

Some councilors expressed concern about the fire station plans, saying that in the long run it would be better to build an entirely new station rather than remodeling and expanding the old station.

"Our firefighters deserve the best but I don't think that this is the best," Councilor Warren Lamb said.

"I've been down to Corvallis and I've seen their new station, which was built on the same site, and they are having trouble getting their equipment in and out of the driveway."

City Manager Roger Jordan said that he, too, had been in contact with Corvallis, at the behest of Councilor Lamb, and that the Corvallis fire chief had not expressed the same concerns to him.

"They are very proud of their new station down there. It's beautiful," Jordan said.

"I didn't say they weren't proud of it," Lamb said, "but I know there are problems. I just think that we shouldn't rush into this. We should take our time and do more studies. We should determine if there is a better alternative before we go to the people with this."

"Right now we are just doing a remodel of the current fire station to keep the roof from collapsing in on millions of dollars worth of equipment should there be an earthquake," Councilor Wess Scroggin said.

Jordan agreed with Scroggin, stating that the fire station remodel would just be the first phase in what, over time, would hopefully be expanded into satellite stations throughout the Dallas area.

"But that is still a ways off. What we are trying to do now is secure and maintain what we have," Jordan said.

"We recognize that this is not the best of financial times for most people," Mayor Jim Fiarchild said.

"So, what we are trying to do is get the greatest bang for our buck. With out skimping, and with out being too elaborate."

A community member who was present also raised concerns about the fire station plan. Stating that he was concerned about Dallas' insurance service organization (ISO) rating if the fire station is located downtown. The ISO rating could effect home owners fire insurance rates, but only if it exceeds seven.

Dallas has a rating of two. City Manager Jordan said that any changes in the current fire station would have little to now effect on Dallas' ISO rating in the short term.

He did acknowledge that eventually Dallas would need to build satellite stations to maintain its high response time to fires, but that could easily be decades in the future.

He reiterated that right now the city is just trying to maintain and upgrade the facilities that it has.

Despite concerns about the fire station, everyone present agreed that the new police station was an absolute necessity. And that the plans for both stations should not be seen as competing for funds with area schools.

"We don't want to be seen as going against the schools," Mayor Fairchild said, "It's important that the people understand that."

Councilor Brian Dalton agreed stating that he felt a public education campaign is vital for this project to succeed with they public.

"We definitely need this given the turn this country has taken since September of '01," Dalton said.


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