Old Fairview Fire Station No. 1 a Danger to First Responders
Politics, especially the local variety, can be very unpredictable. It is said this is why many cities and towns schedule their bond proposals in off-year elections when voter turnout is notoriously low, typically in low single digits in Texas.
In November 2017 Fairview voters, however, marched en masse to not only defeat a $25.5 million bond proposal that would have increased their property taxes by about 21 percent, but to totally repudiate the measure: The Fairview bond proposal failed by a whopping margin --- only 29.56 percent in favor and 70.44 percent against. It was the political equivalent of a stick in the eye given that voter turnout rose to an unprecedented 25.2% in an election that turned out on average only six percent of registered voters in Texas.
In retrospect, many have speculated that the bond measure failed because it was presented as a package containing a long list of municipal improvements including a new fire station to replace old No. 1, (Fairview’s first town hall), a fire administration building; a multi-purpose space for an emergency operation center (EOC)/community meeting/training facility; and a public works office and service yard. Apparently most voters found the proposal just too much to digest in one gulp.
Had voters been furnished with a single bond proposal to replace what has become a dangerous-to-occupy decrepit complex of three separate buildings, one of which has been abandoned for fear the roof and walls might simply collapse, the outcome might have been much different.
Clearly, the Fairview Town Council has learned valuable lessons about future bond issues. A large task force of citizens called a Community Resource Group (CRG) was appointed early in 2018 and has met three times in lengthy sessions to help provide new insights into what municipal projects might be considered in a new priority order. The CRG will engage in a work session with the Fairview Council on June 14. It remains to be seen what its work product will be.
However, it is entirely conceivable that old Fire Station No. 1 might actually collapse onto itself or worse, spark what could be a catastrophic fire.
The original Town Hall portion of the complex has been abandoned because it is ripe with life-safety issues: Climb into the attic and you will find electrical conduit strewn helter-skelter, the roof is sagging and the joists could give way at any time as could an exterior wall, ten gallon buckets are positioned throughout the complex to try and catch water leaking through the rooves of the two structures that are still occupied, servers that manage critical emergency communications are a messy jumble of wires and a portable fan rests nearby to try to keep the essential equipment cool. The complex is vulnerable to tornado damage and there is no safe room for firefighters to flee to in case of an approaching storm, as was nearly the case in April. The station has no backup generator to ensure that vital communications can take place in the event of power interruptions that occur frequently.
Fairview Town Council has now fast tracked the issue to determine what interim measures might take place to mitigate some of the dangers and inconveniences Fairview fire fighters are trying to cope with at Station No.1. Fairview Mayor Darion Culbertson believes, “The time has come to no longer invest in the old building. Our Public Works team should raze it and we can replace it with a modular building whether we have a bond issue or not. I also believe our first responders should have a storm shelter to protect them.”