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Council gives the go-ahead to two new fire stations

Friday, May 25, 2018 by Chad Swiatecki

Two areas of the city in chronic need of better Fire Department service could get temporary or permanent fire stations within the next two years after City Council voted Thursday to make improving response times a priority. Council passed two votes – originally brought as one resolution by Council Member Delia Garza – to put together a plan by the end of June to determine how to add fire stations to the Travis Country neighborhood near Oak Hill and the Moore’s Crossing/Del Valle area in East Austin, which have been identified as being in the most severe need of a new station through a combination of response times and call volumes, among other factors. Garza, a former firefighter, sponsored the resolution in part because residents in Del Valle have seen their homeowners insurance premiums dramatically increase this year because much of the area experiences wait times of more than 10 minutes for fire or emergency medical service. The resolution also attempts to fast-track those stations, with the intent to begin construction within 12 months. In 2016 Council voted to build five new fire stations, but that effort stalled, and it was recently estimated the city would need 10 years to build the new stations, a finding that prompted Garza to push the issue. The issue sparked a debate between Garza and Council Member Alison Alter over whether the city should gather data on possibly fast-tracking two different stations from the five areas identified as being in the most need. An amended version of the resolution was eventually split into two questions that were approved; 7-3 for the first question, with Alter and Council members Leslie Pool and Ora Houston voting against it, and a unanimous vote for the second. Council Member Ellen Troxclair was absent.

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