Cost estimates rise for Fire Station 8
The new fire station for Indian Springs is expected to exceed its budget because of flood plain issues and utility hookups, according to preliminary estimates of costs presented to The Woodlands Fire Department last week.
But with Station 8 for Indian Springs and Station 7 for Creekside Park bid out together, Fire Chief Alan Benson said he expect to delivery both facilities within the $7.4 million budget allocated for the projects through a bond issue approved by voters in November.
We think we have that in one pot of money," Benson said. We're being pretty conservative with the cost estimate out of that."
The cost for Fire Station 8, which would be located on Gosling Road behind the Tallowberry neighborhood, exceeded the budget because of the need to fill the site to bring it above the 100-year flood plain and to connect utilities to the area. That project is expected to cost $4 million.
Obviously it is a concern," said Joel Deretchin, vice president of the fire department board. These are just estimates right now. The station will be designed, bid out and if it comes in over budget, we'll look to where reductions can be made".
The cost for Station 7 in Creekside Park is expected to come in under budget at $3.3 million, according to estimates provided by Joiner and Associates, the consultant on the project. Each project was allocated $3.7 million in the $17.3 bond election approved by voters in November. The bonds will also be used to renovation Central Station on Grogan's Mill and purchase trucks and equipment.
Deretchin, who also serves vice president of public affairs at The Woodlands Development Co., said the developer would offer dirt from work in Creekside Park to help defray the cost.
If we have dirt available from Creekside Park, we would make it available to the fire department," Deretchin said.
Fire calls from 2009
The Woodlands Fire Department responded to nearly 5,600 calls in The Woodlands in 2009, of which 53 percent were medical emergencies.
The Woodlands Fire Department is the first responder for all calls in the Woodlands, and its firefighters are training paramedics.
The Woodlands is also served by the Montgomery County Hospital District and Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, which provide emergency medical services, and are funded through property taxes.
When asked if The Woodlands should consider its own ambulance service, Benson and Deretchin said the current system is the best available. Benson said in most major cities, medical calls account for more than 70 percent of requests from the fire departments.
Deretchin said by having separate services, the fire department is available to take fire calls instead of being tied up at the emergency room with patients.
In addition to serving The Woodlands, the fire department assisted outside departments for mutual aid 209 times in 2009, mainly for South County, Magnolia and Needham. The Woodlands Fire Department asked for outside assistance, mainly to back up empty fire stations, only 32 times, Benson said.
The Woodlands Fire Department also handles dispatch services for all fire departments in Montgomery County, except for Conroe. Dispatch received 56,500 calls for services, with about 26,500 incidents requiring services. Of those calls, 21 percent were generated in The Woodlands, Benson said.
In its first full year of operation, The Woodlands Emergency Training Center held 253 public education events and served more than 4,400 students. Most of these students were from Lone Star College -- Montgomery, which has a cooperative program to train and recertified firefighters. The fire department also received $46,000 in payment from the college to host the courses. The program is expected to expand this year, Benson said.
Finally, The Woodlands firefighters underwent more than 29,000 hours of training an average of 271 hours per firefighters at the new facility last year.
Woodlands Fire Department Services 2008 and 2009
The Woodlands Fire Department is the first responder for emergency calls in The Woodlands. The community also received emergency medical services in Montgomery County from the Montgomery County Hospital District and in Harris County from the Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services. Following are the statistics for services offered by the Woodlands Fire Department in 2008 and 2009.
Total WFD Incidents 5,597 5,860
Total EMS Incidents 2,990 2,974
EMS percent of calls 53% 51%
Total Mutual Aid provided 209 256
Total Mutual Aid received 32 83
Source: The Woodlands Fire Department
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