Lake fire sparks talk of satellite stationIt took eight minutes for the Mitchell Fire Division, which is located downtown, to reach the house fire three miles away Monday morning on the north shore of Lake Mitchell.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
It took eight minutes for the Mitchell Fire Division, which is located downtown, to reach the house fire three miles away Monday morning on the north shore of Lake Mitchell.
That has some people in the city talking anew about an old idea — placing a satellite fire station in the northern part of Mitchell.
“It’s something that’s been talked about and looked at for at least 10 years, because the population is growing to the north and northwest with residential housing,” said Paul Morris, assistant fire chief.
Morris said the nationwide expected response time for emergency services is five minutes. The call about the fire came in at 6:20 a.m. Monday, and Morris said firefighters were dispatched at 6:22 a.m. and arrived on the scene about 6:30 a.m.
“Ten minutes is a fairly long time,” Morris said, referring to the time between the call and firefighters’ arrival on the scene. “That ties in again with why we’re looking at a satellite station.”
Morris said emergency vehicles typically travel 10 mph over the speed limit in emergencies. Speeds higher than that can create danger for the general public and firefighters, he added.
“At this point, there’s not much more to do to get there much faster,” he said of the northwestern part of Mitchell.
Firefighters do work together regularly during training to identify better emergency routes in the city, he said.
Morris said a satellite station would be in the best interests of both citizens and emergency service personnel.
In regard to Monday’s fire specifically, he speculated that had a satellite station existed in the lake area, the outcome would likely have been the same. He said the house was engulfed when firefighters arrived and “once a fire starts, it doubles in size every minute.”
In August, the City Council set aside $100,000 in the 2012 budget for a future satellite station. A satellite station would likely cost $1 million to build and might not require extra equipment or personnel initially, city officials have said, because existing equipment and a rotation of personnel could be used to supply the smaller facility.
City Council President Jeff Smith, who represents Ward 4 in the Lake Mitchell area, said Tuesday that Monday’s fire could spark more discussion and future action regarding a satellite fire station.
He said budgetary reasons in the past have interfered with putting away more money for a second fire station.
“At some point, everything boils down to cost,” he said. “The $100,000 was the first step toward a station. I don’t know if the council is convinced at this point, but they’re convinced enough to start putting money away.”
Smith said the council determined the set-aside fund could also be used if the city received a grant that required matching funds.
When he and his family built their home near Lake Mitchell 12 years ago, Smith said he, like so many other homeowners in the area, considered the distance from the heart of the city and emergency services. However, Smith said, people are still making the decision to build in that area.
“In saying that, everyone pays their fair share of taxes and wants to have services and assurances that they are getting their money’s worth,” he said.