The Leander Fire Department will add a fifth fire station in 2019 to keep pace with population growth on the west side of the city. City Council members approved spending $6.4 million to build the fire station and purchase two new fire trucks during Thursday’s meeting.
The council also agreed to hire Komatsu Architects to design and build Fire Station No. 5 and adjoining medical unit for $511,882. The firm was previously selected to design and build the city’s Fire Station No. 1, which is currently under construction.
Leander Fire Chief Bill Gardner said as many as 15 new firefighters will be hired to man the new firehouse. The city’s current budget includes $1,354,212 to pay the additional firefighters and to equip them along with the new trucks.
Gardner said the firehouse has been planned for more than a year. He said he would like the new location to be ready to open by May 2019 to follow the developer’s timeline for homes in two new sections of the Travisso subdivision to be occupied.
“We follow performance indicators to predict when a new firehouse is needed and this firehouse met two of the indicators,” Gardner said. “This is a large development with fast growth that we can expect to increase our call volume by 10 to 15 percent.”
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that fire stations be able to respond to fires within two miles 80 percent of the time. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) provides the best insurance rates for homes located within a five mile radius of a fire station.
Gardner said the Travisso developer plans to add 724 building lots with as many as 2,350 new residents.
The council okayed hiring Komatsu Architects without requesting proposals from other firms because of good experience with their work and due to Gardner’s urging that the new fire station will be needed next year.
Leander recently earned a rating of 2 from the ISO which evaluates fire protection services for homeowners insurance rating purposes. Gardner said the city may be able to achieve a rating of 1 by building the new firehouse. The good ISO rating can lower insurance premiums in some cases.
The council voted to purchase a 25-passenger mini bus for the Parks and Recreation Department to transport seniors and youths participating in summer programs in the city. The total purchase amount is $64,884.
Mayor Chris Fielder said that helping to obtain a donated bus for the city programs was one of his first tasks as a council member.
“I think it had about 800,000 miles on it,” said Fielder, who recently announced he will not seek re-election in May. “I am excited to see this new bus on the agenda.”
The council also agreed to enter agreements with Austin Community College, Capital Metro, and St. David’s Healthcare Partnership to hold the 2018 Liberty Fest Celebration on July 4. The Metro Rail station in Leander will be used in past years for the festival’s fireworks display.
The following appointments were approved at the meeting: