By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Following a pair of quieter months, Liberty Hill Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln expects the business side of Emergency Services District No. 4 (ESD) to ramp up in February.
At the February meeting, the ESD anticipates considering financial institution options for financing the new station, approval and financing of new fire equipment for the new engine due to arrive next month and new cab and chassis for a brush truck.
“That will load up our February meeting with purchases and approvals on those items,” Lincoln said this week.
The new engine, which cost the department $640,000 is due for delivery in February, and the next step is equipping it.
“The equipment list for that truck is about $175,000, so that’s what we’re doing now is getting ready to get the funding set for that,” Lincoln said.
Also on the agenda for early spring is identifying a temporary location for firefighters and a smaller brush truck to provide more service to the area where station 2 is slated until the building construction is finalized.
“The first plan was to have it open this spring,” Lincoln said. “We know that’s not going to happen, so in this budget we’ve planned for a temporary location with two firefighters in a smaller vehicle so we can have a station out there starting around April 1.”
The permanent station is set to be about 10,500 square feet, at a cost up to $4.5 million. Lincoln hopes to save some, but is confident the project will be within that budget.
“Obviously we are going to try and bring it down, but that’s the top of our financial cost,” he said. “A building right now is $385 per square foot for a fire station.”
With plans done and the construction manager – Sabre Construction – working with architects PGAL – Lincoln believes the process will begin to move faster now.
“They are probably at about 50 percent on the construction drawings,” he said. “The land is going to be conveyed to us by the developer.”
The site is three acres and is off Ronald Reagan, north of State Highway 29, near the entrance of Santa Rita North.
With 2017 in the books, Lincoln said the call rate increase was slightly down from the previous two years, but still increased over 8 percent after topping 10 percent in the previous two years.
Putting the new station on the east side of the fire district was based on current growth rates and patterns.
“That was one of the target areas when we started looking for station sites in high-growth areas.” Lincoln said. “Geographically we look at what we can cover with those stations, trying to get as much bang for our buck as we can and what we can do to get better insurance rates and coverage for our customers.”
The new station is anticipated to cover the eastern portion of the ESD, roughly east of US Hwy 183, including the area east of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River on the north end of the district.
Lincoln hopes to have the new station open in October. The station will have an engine company with three to four firefighters and room for EMS should the need arise in the future.
“The station is big enough to handle an EMS unit, and the plans can be modified for future stations to save as much as $500,000 if scaled back,” Lincoln said. “What I’m building today is going to last for 30 years and I didn’t want to wish two years from now we had done something different. It costs more sometimes to remodel it than to build it to begin with.”