SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — San Marcos’ fire department is trying to keep up with technology and population growth.
The city is moving forward on replacing and relocating Fire Station 2.
The current one was built in the 1950s and is located at Academy Street.
The new station will move to Wonder World Drive and Ranch Road 12.
The new Fire Station 2 will be almost exactly the same as the city’s new Fire Station 4, which opened in 2018.
The fire chief says the new location will help keep his team and the public safer.
“The station that’s being replaced doesn’t have a direct source capture vehicle exhaust removal system,” says San Marcos fire chief Les Stephens.
That means firefighters are exposed to diesel fumes, which contain a cancer-causing chemical.
“The exhaust was getting on our gear, it was getting on our personnel. We weren’t filtering it, we weren’t capturing it and exhausting it to the outside and our firefighters were basically living in a contaminated environment 24 out of every 72 hours,” Stephens says.
He says that the current space is too small for renovations, that’s why they need a whole new property.
But the price tag has some council members worried.
“Now we found out it’s going to cost a lot, lot more than what we were told initially and we don’t have a lot of tax dollars,” said council member Ed Mihalkanin during last week’s city council meeting.
“I share your concerns,” said another council woman.
“I agree,” echoed a third.
The project started at about $5 million but is now almost a million over that.
Chief Stephens says, after months of research, this is the best option he could find.
“I think that’s just been an unfortunate occurrence due to the timing. The economy’s been very strong, the cost of materials has gone up, the cost of labor has gone up,” he says.
In the end, Stephens says the new station will help firefighters and the community, with faster response times for more people.
“By and large, a larger number of people will be affected positively,” Stephens says.
Construction is expected to begin on the new fire station in January.
The city is also in the planning stages of adding another new facility, Fire Station 6.
Eventually, the fire chief in San Marcos says he wants to add two more stations, too, based on funding.