After 10 months of review and discussion, the Turkey Creek Fire Territory Executive Board sent plans for renovating Syracuse Fire Station No. 1 back to the drawing board during its regular monthly meeting Thursday night.
Discussion on the plan lasted over an hour.
Board member Brad Jackson presented a plan for a one story renovation with a total cost of $242,000 plus an additional $26,000 for updating the exterior of the station. The option of a two story addition was $410,000 with no exterior update was also presented.
Board member Bill Musser explained, if the one story renovation was approved, work on Phase I could start right away with Phase II starting in the spring. D-J Construction, which has done all of the drawings, would be able to do the work without the project having to go to bid.
Jackson said his focus was on the condition of Station No. 1, which has been neglected and needs to be addressed.
Musser asked if the fire department would consider moving the ladder truck from Station No. 2 to town due to the new industrial park being built and more buildings in town. Chief Mickey Scott pointed out the big pumper, which measures 32 feet in length, would have to be moved.
There was some discussion about an extra bay, which Scott explained was used to dry hose after fires and put equipment back together.
Another point of contention was medical storage, which is currently inadequate. At this point in the discussion, it was discovered Scott hadn’t seen the new updated plans for the renovation.
Dixon noted the savings between the one- and two-story renovation plans was $168,000 with the one story plan costing 60 percent of the two story plan.
Dixon asked Scott about the proposed changes. Scott said looking at the plan, medical storage appeared to be smaller than what the department currently has. Musser suggested making the closet deeper until Scott pointed out a water main runs behind the back wall preventing that type of expansion.
Musser pointed out the plan showed existing medical storage area plus more space.
As the discussion continued Musser and Jackson spent a good part of it with their heads together looking for ways to make the plan work.
Scott explained medical equipment is currently spread throughout the building. Jackson asked if a closet 2 feet deep would work. Scott said no and fire fighters/paramedics in attendance shook their heads no.
Another problem was with the dorms. Mickey stressed there had to be more sleeping space since more women were coming onto the department.
“When we looked at the second floor option, our plan was to work from the first floor during construction and then move to the second floor,” Scott said, pointing out there will be logistical problems regardless of which plan is used.
He also pointed out space will be lost by pushing the women’s dorms into the kitchen and the kitchen into the addition proposed on the plan.
Musser and Jackson asked if the fire fighters could use bunk beds. Assistant chief Howard Birkel, asked the board if they ever got off a top bunk at 2 a.m. with a 3-minute door time. “It’s not a fun trip,” he said. “You can’t roll over without hitting the ceiling,” Scott told the board.
Dixon asked about egress and exits for vehicles. Scott said with the proposed plan the trucks won’t be able to be driven through. He also wasn’t sure about the set backs for the alley.
Dixon pointed out the problem is with medical storage and the dorm problem gender wise. He asked Scott if he could legally schedule around available housing. Scott said he didn’t know.
Jackson and Musser came up with the idea of a single dorm room which could “flip-flop” depending on the number of men or women on duty.
“If we’re going to favor a single story plan, which three people here seem to be, there needs some work, with medical storage and the zoning on the alley,” Dixon said.
“The main reason (to do this) was to get more room and I don’t see more room,” said Board member Dennis Darr.
Jackson said he wanted to upgrade the station. Darr asked, “How do you know what’s coming? Do we act or react?”
“I care about renovating a fire station adequate for today and anticipating its needs for 20 years,” Dixon said. “I think you’re better to build bigger and do it once than have to do this again 10 years from now.”
Dixon said the problems he saw was inadequate medical storage and dorms. Meeting room space could be worked out. Dixon suggested more dorm space on each side. Musser noted moving the equipment lockers could provide more room. Jackson noted there was some dead space on the south side of the bays that could be used.
Dixon asked the paramedics present if there are supplies needed more frequently. Paramedics told him the way things are now, it creates under stock, because of how things are stored.
“Medicines should be under tighter control than it is now. Medical equipment should be under tighter control and away from caustic fumes. We can’t say that now,” said Firefighter/Paramedic Janelle Fancil. She also pointed out some drugs have to be refrigerated.
Another point Fancil made was the fire territory board had no idea how big fire trucks will be in the future.
Firefighter/paramedic Chad Ford pointed out when they pull back in after a run, sometimes they receive a call to go out immediately, restocking from a closet 30 feet away adds valuable time.
“I think we should go back and tell them we need medical supplies in one location and add another dorm room,” Jackson said.
Another point was training. The firefighters/paramedics pointed out training has to be close to the station since equipment has to be used. Scott said attempting to use council chambers room was next to impossible.
“You have to look at the future,” he told the board. “We may have to reassign trucks and manpower. What I’m hearing with this plan is limiting it╔This plan of the one story doesn’t allow for the future where the second story gives you the flexibility for 20 years.”
Musser stated he thought the department had the right number of people. Birkel asked “What happens if the volunteers go away,” noting there are more demands on them for training. Scott echoed the concerns about training and told the board supervisors often won’t allow employees who are volunteers to respond during work anymore.
He noted since Station No. 2 has been built response time to the east side of the lake has been reduced from 12 minutes to under 6 minutes.
Jackson asked how much Scott was willing to cut from his equipment budget to make a plan work. Scott countered pointing out taxes were raised in 2011 and 2012, raising $725,000 just for the renovation of Station No. 1 and the money hasn’t been spent yet.
Scott pointed out in 2008 the fire/ems budget was $720,000 with one ambulance staffed 24/7. Today there are two fully staffed ambulances 24/7. In the last 20 years, EMS calls have doubled in volume while fire calls have increased by 50 percent.
Dixon pointed out the tax payers were promised tax relief in 2013 and the money has been raised. “To me the issue is spending smart,” he said. He went on noting he believed the second story plan wouldn’t work, but saw a need for a third fire station down the road.
Dixon said he would be happy with a single story station but he will not vote on it until he sees the changes outlined during the meeting.