Talks have begun about the location for a new fire station in Alma and the fire department continues to update equipment as part of its list of voter approved projects.
Alma city officials are looking at three parcels on the north side of the city for the location of a new Alma fire station, said Alma Fire Chief Eddie Wakefield.
Wakefield listed Alma’s current stations numbered one through four that cover the south, east, west and central areas of the city, he said.
“North is the obvious area we need to expand in,” Wakefield said.
Depending on project costs, the new station will have two to three bays. A rough estimate of the cost to build the station is $1.2 million, including equipment, he said.
“We may reposition the trucks we have, but we (also) will be adding fire trucks,” Wakefield said.
A new fire station is the newest in a long list of updates the AFD has done since it was approved by voters during a special election Aug. 12, 2014.
In the special election, Alma voters chose to continue a 1-cent sales tax and approved park, police, fire, street, streetscape and parking projects and to refund a 2012 bond.
Alma is about to issue the third sale of three separate bonds to pay for the city-wide projects.
Once sold, the AFD will have received money from the sale of both the first and second bond totalling $4,050,000, Wakefield said.
Alma has an all-volunteer fire department with 30 firefighters and an ISO Class 4 rating, Wakefield said. With no salaries, all money that goes to the fire department pays for fire equipment and maintenance.
“Our number one concern is loss of life, and having top of the line equipment helps prevent further damage and as much loss of life as we can,” Wakefield said. “We want to keep that to a minimum in the City of Alma. We want to provide the city the best service we can.”
Most recent purchases made with the bond money includes a RescueOne rescue boat and trailer, the second of two new brush trucks, and a new pumper truck.
Firefighters can use the boat and trailer to more quickly respond to calls on Lake Alma, and assist other agencies in water rescues, Wakefield said.
Since the Alma Lake Trail opened two years ago, the AFD has had an increase in calls for people needing assistance on the lake, Wakefield said. The rescue boat will reduce the department’s response time by 45 minutes to 1 hour, he said.
New brush trucks, called wildland trucks by Wakefield, were needed because they can operate off road - unlike some of the department’s older trucks.
“We’ve seen that we respond to more and more wildland fires than we have in the past - both inside the city and assisting the county,” Wakefield said.
AFD’s new pumper is a compressed air foam truck, that can carry 1,000 gallons of water and pump 1,500 gallons per minute. This is the second compressed foam pumper for the department.
By mixing in a tiny percentage of foam concentrate, the 1,000 gallons carried by the truck can do the work of 4,000 gallons in extinguishing fires, Wakefield said. This makes the water 50 to 75 more effective in reducing damage, he said.
Other purchases by the AFD include loose equipment for the wildland trucks, new turnout gear for firefighters, new self-contained breathing apparatuses and air compressor, extra set of rescue equipment, new radio equipment for the trucks, equipment for the new pumper truck. The department also remodeled its heavy rescue truck.
All of the items were included in the department’s estimate for bond funds, Wakefield said.