New fire station and trucks in plans for Delray

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jan 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-01 19:36:27-05

City leaders in Delray Beach have pinpointed two top locations for a new fire station.

Tuesday night, commissioners are expected to begin negotiations to buy a property where they'll build a new Station 3.

The firefighter's union first complained about rodent and mold issues in the building in 2008. The city made several changes to the building to fix problems, but hasn't moved firefighters out of the building as the union requested in November.

Station 3 is located at 651 W. Linton Blvd and is the second busiest in the city, according to a memo from the fire chief. Last fiscal year, the station received 2,927 emergency service requests.

"The station is woefully inadequate and not sufficient to house our professional firefighting men and women providing them with the appropriate facilities to prepare for and deliver requisite fire and emergency services," Chief Danielle Connor wrote in a memo last month.

"It sounds like it's important enough to take care of their health, because they're going to be taking care of ours one day," explains Delray Beach resident Victor Echevarria.

He says he's driven past the 44-year-old station hundreds of times, but never knew about the issues inside.

He's glad his tax dollars are going toward a new firehouse. The city set aside $4.6 million over this year and next to build the new station. 

City leaders held off on building a new station because they were considering merging the department with Palm Beach County's. In that case, Palm Beach County would have paid for the building the new firehouse.

City documents show the city's top pick for the new location is 15 SE 10th Street. The property currently has several warehouse-type buildings and appears to be used by an electrical company.

City staff members will consider trading the current Station 3 property in a deal to acquire new property.

"Our guys are optimistic and excited for the opportunity to do that and excited for the opportunity to have a training center there at our station where we can do more training," explains Captain Kevin Saxton, with Delray Beach Fire-Rescue.

The plan is to install a training tower at the new fire station. It will allow firefighters to practice with different techniques and equipment almost whenever they want. Currently, firefighters train at the tower in the city of Boca Raton.
Chief Connor says the new station and tower will make it easier to train new employees. She noted there are 18 openings at the department and 26 employees are schedule to retire in the next five years.

Tuesday, city commissioners will also consider buying two fire trucks and an ambulance.

Saxton says the department tries to replace ambulances every seven years and frontline trucks every ten years.

The new ambulance would replace one which has been used since 2005.

One new truck would be a 75ft ladder truck to replace a 2005 pumper truck with a 61ft mast.

The third truck would be a pumper truck. It would replace a 2001 model firetruck. 

All total, the cost is about $1.7 million.

"We need that rescue truck [ambulance] to fire up immediately, we need it to work, so we can take a patient to the hospital. We need fire apparatus to work first time every time so we can get water to a fire so we can protect the public, protect our people," Saxton points out.

He adds the department maintains its fleet and keeps some trucks in reserve so a vehicle is always ready to go.

The new fire station should be open by the end of 2016.