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Photo by J. Köster

Fire/EMS station construction on pace despite pandemic

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 by Seth Smalley

In 2017, a service needs analysis of the Austin Fire Department led to the City Council-sanctioned creation of a six-year plan to construct and staff five fire/EMS stations in the areas of most need: Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, Travis Country, Loop 360/Davenport, Goodnight Ranch and Canyon Creek/620. Last week, Richard Mendoza, the director of Public Works, delivered a report to Mayor Steve Adler and Council members affirming that, despite the pandemic, the resolution’s progress is on schedule.

“We believe we will still be able to deliver the remaining three stations within the original six-year timeline and are working in partnership with the city’s Budget Office as well as the Austin Fire Department and Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services on next steps for delivery given the current financial constraints,” Mendoza noted in the memo.

The Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing Station is complete, according to the report, while the Travis Country Station has achieved “substantial completion.” A certificate of occupancy was issued on July 8 for the Travis Country Station and the memo states, “the contractor is progressing towards final completion and move-in.”

The Travis Country Station includes a training tower, fuel station for city vehicles, 10 dorm rooms and sustainable landscaping, according to a press release from last year.

While the Loop 360/Davenport Station is still in the design development stage, its construction is slated for October. (“Due to challenges with site topography and utilities we are estimating a 15-month construction timeline for this station,” according to the memo.)

Both the Goodnight Ranch Station and the Canyon Creek Station are still in pre-development stages.

The 2017 resolution highlighted AFD’s inability to comply with National Fire Protection Association standards; specifically, to arrive on location within eight minutes of an emergency call at least 90 percent of the time. According to the resolution, response times even exceed eight minutes most of the time in some areas of the city.

AFD’s failure to meet this critical standard likely corresponds to Austin’s population outpacing the Fire Department’s expansion. According to the city demographer quoted in the resolution, “Austin’s population grew by 40 percent from 2003 to 2018, and will likely further expand by roughly 25 percent between now and 2033.”

Photo courtesy of CC by 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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