Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Same issue, different year.
One of the big items Georgetown City Council is deciding whether to fund in the 2012-13 budget is one they debated last year for the current budget — the Maryville Fire station.
The current Maryville fire station on South Island Road is much too small, according to Fire Chief Joey Tanner.
He said when that station was built in 1979, it was already cramped quarters for the two firefighters who were housed at that location, Tanner said.
The size of the building has not increased in the past three decades but the number of workers required to be at the station 24/7 has doubled.
In 2009 the city spent more than $1 million on the purchase of 18 acres on Highway 17 in Maryville as a site for a new fire station.
Three years later, very little has been done with the property that was once the site of Eagle Electric Manufacturing.
Tanner said there is $1 million allocated in the 2012-13 budget for the construction of the new fire station but that is one thing City Council still has to discuss before the new budget if ratified by the end of June.
City Administrator Chris Eldridge said be does not expect council to write a million dollar check. Instead, he feels bonds will be issued in order to pay for the project.
Mayor Jack Scoville said he plans to urge council to move forward with the plans in the upcoming fiscal year.
“I think it’s real important. We have been kicking this issue down the road for years. Council keeps ignoring it,” Scoville said. “We have had terrible problems in Maryville with fire issues.”
Move needed for many reasons
Moving out of the current Maryville station, Tanner said, is a matter of safety for his workers and the community.
The station has only one restroom, shower and dormitory which are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently there are no female firefighters in Maryville but there has been in the past.
“The dorm room is cramped with not enough lockers for the assigned crew, because of space,” Tanner said.
There is also another issue of concern in the one restroom.
“The main floor drain cleanout has risen in the floor on at least two occasions over the last couple of years that has required our employees to take a sledge hammer to break up the concrete and then repair the area. The shower had to be retiled in the last couple of years because of the cracks in the tile and floor pan causing the wall to get wet and mold,” Tanner said.
The rest of the building is also inadequate for the purpose it is being used, Tanner said.
“The quarters consists of a small dining table with chairs for the crew, one small lounge area and an office for the Asst. Fire Chief,” Tanner said. “The kitchen is too small, for the current appliances that have been installed, to the point that the kitchen door cannot be closed. There is no dining table to eat on, the firefighters have built a storage cabinet that has a shelf installed to use a dining counter.”
The front office/entrance area is set up for the shift officer to use for their daily report writing and the training area. Basically, all three shift members get a chair and sit behind the computer screen so that they can see the information presented in the class that they are taking, Tanner explained.
There is also not enough room on the property to properly house the fire engines. The Insurance Service Office (ISO) has given the area a 3 rating, with 1 being the best. Tanner said there is no way for that rating to improve unless a new station is built.
That’s because the ISO requires fire trucks to be stored in an enclosed, heated bay.
There is no way to build enclosed bays at the current facility.
Safety becomes an issue because the brick walls outside the building are cracked and, in some places, bowing.
“I am really concerned about that during hurricane season,” Tanner said.
Scoville said part of the old Eagle Electric building, considered unsalvageable, will be torn down.
Bids are being accepted for the removal of asbestos from the building which must take place before any demolition can occur.
Once the bids are approved for that, bids will be solicited for the demolition, Eldridge said.
Tanner said the fire department will need about three of the 18 acres on the site.
The city’s Public Works Department is supposed to relocate to that property, Scoville said.
If feasible, the portion of the property closest to Highway 17 may be sold for commercial use, Scoville added.
By Scott Harper