Fairview Fire Fighters Weigh in on May 4 Bond Issue
On Sat., May 4, Fairview residents will vote for several new council members, a new mayor and a very consequential bond election. Election campaigns often range from ho-hum to compelling depending upon the candidates and the issues. The campaign surrounding the bond measure has been especially tempestuous due in large part to its unique history.
In Nov. 2017, a $25 million bond election proposing to finance a new fire station along with several additional municipal facilities went down to defeat by a margin so decisive that it both shocked and chastened the Fairview Council. It ushered in three new council members but also divided Fairview into two camps --- those favoring a new fire station and those against it. Passions run deep and strong among both. The creation of a 50-person Citizens Response Group (CRG) by the Town Council, many believe was a sound idea, but some also say it was poorly managed. For some, it had the unintended effect of further separating neighbors into combative camps.
Some residents opposed to the construction of a new fire station say one station is enough for a town like Fairview. Based upon a recently concluded independent professional evaluation, Fairview needs two stations in order to properly respond to fire and rescue emergencies.
Also, among those who oppose the May 4 bond election are residents who contend that the temporary metal building that replaced a portion of existing fire station No. 1 and two trailers that provide housing for firefighters is all that is needed, at least for the near-term future. We visited the station and talked with Fire Marshall Travis Green and Captain Nathan White about this.
While there is no doubt that compared to the facilities eighteen months ago, the current jerry- rigged station is improved. But it is very far from appropriate. In fact, Fire Marshal Green said, “If these structures were not approved as a temporary fire station, they would never pass my inspection. Even with the new modular building, we still do not meet fire or life safety code issues such as a fire sprinkler system, nor ADA requirements for all buildings. Even though we installed an automatic exhaust system, the current building that houses the fire/ EMS vehicles still does not keep fumes out due to lack of seals between spaces as well as old HVAC systems
In the truck bay, firefighter’s gear, intended to protect them from fire and smoke inhalation, hang on a rack adjacent to the fire apparatus. The proximity to noxious exhausts and sunlight degrades the integrity of the gear and substantially shortens their usefulness. It is why the NFPA standard calls for a completely separate room to store the gear.
The electrical system fails regularly requiring computers and communication equipment to be rebooted often. To protect three firefighters and up to three administrative personnel from injury from tornados, a very small steel shelter occupies a corner.
When a fire or EMS call comes in, fire fighters must wend their way through a maze inside and outside through several doors. This can lengthen response time, especially for fire calls, because fire fighters must don their gear in the bay area. The fire-fighting business is all about rapid response and seconds actually count. The NFPA standard is that apparatus must roll within 60 seconds for a medical call and 90 seconds 90% of the time for a fire call. Lives literally hang in the balance.
These are the reasons why Fairview’s fire-fighters recently issued their own statement urging residents to pass the bond election (see sidebar) so that a more appropriate fire station might replace what has become both a relic and an embarrassment. Ensuring the safety of town residents and their property is, of course, the department’s driving concern.
Fairview FR’s Statement Regarding May 4 Bond Election
On Feb. 5, the Fairview Town Council unanimously approved a bond election to replace our Fire Station 1. This bond proposal is based upon the recommendation of a community resource group comprised of over 50 town citizens. While historically the building of a fire station (especially one being built without a tax increase) would receive universal support from a town and easily pass an election, ours has become quite different. There has been some very vocal opposition, which is why we are asking you to vote YES for Proposition A.
A fire station should be something that both town residents and we as firefighters alike can be proud of. There should be station tours for our youngest of residents, and community events all of us can enjoy. We are asking for a modest, yet comparable home away from home; one that reflects our dedication to the high level of service you have come to expect from us. The arguments against replacing Station 1 are ill-advised. For example, some have suggested that we do not need a station on that side of town, and could operate out of Station 2. This was unsurprisingly refuted in an agency evaluation commissioned by the Town Council. The evaluation was performed by Emergency Services Consulting International. In its key findings the report states: “There is absolutely a need for two fire stations,” and “[the] current stations are located in the right place.” Alternatively, others have proposed that we could stay in the temporary structures we are in now. By temporary, we mean trailers, two trailers in fact. This should not be considered a long term option. While functional, they certainly do not meet the town’s standards, and will not accommodate the future needs of the town.
We know the majority of town residents appreciate and support us and the replacement of Station 1. We know because you tell us often, and we are grateful for your support. We humbly ask that you show that support in the most important way, by voting YES for Proposition A. Please spread the word, we need your vote!
For more information please see the referenced full report from independent consultants regarding Fairview Fire Rescue and the town’s bond information page: