- Published on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 13:42
Future growth may push substation ahead
Daily Elk Citian
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series examining how Elk City’s insurance rating could improve by building a second fire station.
What could have been a half million dollar expansion of the Elk City Fire Department never made it out of the gates.
By early April, as City Hall began going over the numbers for the upcoming budget year, city leaders decided a new substation for the department wasn't enough of a priority.
Instead, the interim city manager and commissioners plucked the request from consideration. According to City Hall documents, money for the project never made it into the first draft of the nearly $25 million budget that finally passed earlier this month.
Officials agree that a second fire station within city limits would improve the city's chances for a better Fire Suppression Rating, which ultimately affects many insurance rates in the city.
Every five to seven years, a town the size of Elk City must go through an inspection process through the Insurance Service Office (ISO) to determine the rating. Each of the more than 46,000 fire districts in the United States must go through the program.
ISO evaluates all aspects of emergency communication, water supply and also the fire department, which itself makes up half of the overall score. In that category, they would would factor in firetrucks and buildings, including a possible substation.
Right now, the Elk City Fire Department is rated at a 3 and just underwent another inspection about a month ago. The new rating has not yet been assigned to the department.
The idea for a substation has been bandied about for several years, but this was the first year it appeared in a budget draft.
Editor's Note: This is the second story in a three-part series about a possible fire substation in Elk City.
The fire department's response times to various sectors of the city and rural areas is fairly even, according to a recent analysis by The Daily Elk Citian.
When considering a second fire station, or substation, in Elk City, growth is probably the largest factor.
Chief Rick Shelton said an analyst with the Insurance Service Office, a ratings agency, told him that when the city reaches a certain population, an ideal place for a substation would be where the heaviest growth occurred.
As the town expands, response times to various locations will also expand. A substation could help lower those response times if placed in the right location.
Right now, Shelton said it takes about three to four minutes to reach all edges of the city limit. But the fire department's coverage area extends a great deal beyond that. Fire crews cover about 400 square miles.
Alongside the substation, a new platform truck appeared in the upcoming budget.
That platform truck is considered a higher priority right now, considering the development of several multi-story buildings in Elk City. Also a priority is a replacement pumper truck to replenish the aging one currently operated by the department.
Editor's Note: This is the final article in a three-part series examining how a second fire station could help Elk City.
Although Elk City has been growing in what seems to be every direction for many, many years, at some point, it may choose a favorite route. When it does, a fire department substation will become a serious consideration.
"We need to start preparing ourselves, maybe start building toward that and maybe start putting some funds back and knowing that at some time this is going to happen," Fire Chief Rick Shelton said.
Shelton noted that the new housing that could possibly go up along BJ Hughes Access Road could
mark a new direction of the city's expansion. Frye felt that business growth will be concentrated along Route 66, interstates, and downtown.
In Durant, a similarly-sized city in southeastern Oklahoma, Deputy Chief Mark Hall's fire department has three stations.
The town's ISO rating of 4, which is lower than Elk City's rating of 3, could be improved with more manpower, Hall said.
For more on this story, check the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 27, 28, 29, editions of The Daily Elk Citian.