If Hanford voters want faster response times for firefighter/paramedics in the near future, they need to support Measure K, the sales tax measure scheduled to go on the ballot in June.
That’s the message from Hanford leaders as they move forward with plans to open a new fire station in 2017.
Construction could begin this year on the 5,000-square-foot facility, to be located on city-owned property at the corner of 12th Avenue and Woodland Drive near the 12th Avenue/Hanford-Armona Road intersection.
“We definitely need it,” said Fire Chief Chris Ekk. “We need four stations, actually. This is going to be huge to reduce our response times and improve our coverage.”
乐动体育Officials say they already have $2.3 million in the bank to build station No. 3.
乐动体育What they don’t have is the approximately $1 million a year to permanently staff the station with nine firefighters.
乐动体育They also don’t have the money to buy a ladder truck. Officials consider it necessary in order to rescue people stuck in high places and to put out fires in taller commercial buildings.
乐动体育That’s where they say Measure K comes in. The proposal would maintain the 7.5 percent sales and shift 0.25 percent of that to local public safety.
The 0.25 percent increment is currently going to the state.
City officials have plans in place to staff the new station on an interim basis whether Measure K passes or not, but it comes at a cost: shifting the firefighters currently staffing station No. 2 at Houston/10 ½ Avenue into the new station.
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Station No. 2 would be converted into office and equipment storage space, according to City Manager Darrel Pyle.
Pyle said station No. 2 could be fully re-staffed quickly if Measure K passes. He said passing Measure K would “speed up” the re-staffing “by a decade, easily.”
“We’re doing as many things as we can with the resources available, but there’s definitely room to improve that,” Pyle said.
Ekk said that the new station would ensure that at least 50 percent of calls for service arrive on scene in less than five minutes.
He said 36 percent to 37 percent of Hanford calls achieve that mark now.
The ideal recognized by the National Fire Protection Association is for first responders beat the five-minute mark in at least 90 percent of call-outs.
“[Measure K] will definitely help us to staff the stations effectively,” Ekk said. “We’re counting on it pretty heavily.”
He said the measure would allow the city to move forward with a fourth station in a yet-to-be-determined location in Hanford north of Highway 198.
“Making the jump to staffing four stations is going to be the big step,” Ekk said.
Hanford City Councilman Russ Curry said that getting a third station built is one of the city’s top priorities. He said it’s “very important” to pass Measure K to “maybe staff another station for future growth.”
“This is going to improve quality of life for Hanford residents,” Curry said.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or 583-2432. Follow him on Twitter @snidever.