Firefighters union says interim fix needed before new stations built

Austin

When someone dials 911, they expect the fire truck or ambulance there as fast as possible. But according to the Austin Firefighters Association, that’s not happening. Bob Nicks, the president of the association, says response times are up because Austin keeps expanding and the number of fire stations is not keeping up with the growth. On Monday, the Austin Public Safety Commission will hear ideas for what to do until AFD can get new fire stations, which could take years.

At the end of the month, Council Member Delia Garza is expected to put forth a resolution to create and staff two temporary fire stations within six months, something Bob Nicks plans to bring up to the Public Safety Commission tonight.

He hopes the resolution will also include a call for the city manager to determine what can be done in 6 years, versus the current 10-year rollout proposal.

The Austin Firefighters Association is ultimately asking for five new stations, something they call crucial. 

“It’s hard we know when we get there the fire will be bigger, we know when we get the emergency medical issues will be larger and it’s all solvable if we just do what we promised initially and give these folks the stations they should have,” says Nicks.

These would be located in areas where there’s been significant growth with the number of people building homes.

Fire stations requested:

  • Travis Country: $16.1M
  • Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing: $14M
  • Loop 360/Davenport: $22.9M
  • Goodnight Ranch: $13.9M
  • Canyon Creek: $19.5M

But how would it be paid for? Austin City Council will decide by August what to include in a 2018 Bond. Right now, there’s $31 million tentatively slated for AFD to go toward three new fire stations. The city could also consider a public/private partnership to roll out construction faster.

The Public Safety Commission will also look at a new system to help firefighters respond faster and safer to emergencies. It uses GPS on emergency vehicles that track where it’s going and turns the light green at an intersection. Hutto Fire and Rescue is the second fire department in the county to have it. 

Right now, 10 vehicles from the Hutto Fire Rescue’s fleet have the system which is called Opticom.

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