Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sun Valley eyes remodel of fire station

Council OKs bid to draft architectural designs for addition


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

The city of Sun Valley is considering plans to remodel the Elkhorn Fire Station, above. Photo by staff files

    The Sun Valley City Council on Nov. 7 approved a bid to draft designs for a remodel of the east section of the Elkhorn Fire Station to allow firefighters to stay there overnight.
    As designers of the original fire station, the architectural firm Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton will design the additions of a bedroom, mini kitchen and shower. Sun Valley Fire Chief Ray Franco said having overnight firefighters will allow the department’s response times to be cut in half.
    The base fee for the schematic architectural design will cost no more than $3,800.
    “I feel that we do an excellent job from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Franco said. “However, after 6 p.m., we rely a lot on volunteers and Ketchum’s fire department. It’s not beneficial just for Sun Valley—it’s for the whole valley. That’s why we’re asking to explore this to have a preliminary drawing or sketch to see where we can go with this.”
    Mayor Dewayne Briscoe was adamant in his support for pursuing the remodel, as he said firefighters have continued to move farther and farther away from the fire station. As a result, the need to have firefighters staying at the station overnight has become urgent, he said.
    “We aren’t equal to Ketchum in our facility, and in our numbers,” Briscoe said. “I feel our citizens deserve the best fire and police the city can afford. This is a step in the right direction.”
    The only City Council member who voted against the review and acceptance was Michelle Griffith, who criticized Franco for not seeking help until after the fiscal year 2014 budget had already been passed.
    “I agree that we need the best emergency care we can give our citizens,” Griffith said. “I think the problem here is the order in which this is coming to us. The citizens haven’t had a formal proposal. I think this process would be a lot easier if it started with an agenda item that said a discussion of emergency services or something along those lines so your presentation with the need to attract volunteers would determine if we need to improve the service that we already have.”
    Councilman Bob Youngman agreed Franco did not do a good job of planning ahead by failing to raise the issue before the current city budget was approved. Franco told the City Council he thinks remodeling the station will be very important to shorten response times, and maximize the capabilities of his department.
    “Right now, I think in the last year and a half we’ve come close to training as well as we are capable of,” Franco said. “All our firefighters are at state level. We’ve put a lot of effort into putting the level of service for what it should be.
    “We’re continually looking for ways to better serve the public. I think this could definitely better our service, invite better personnel into our department. I’d love to set some goals with the council and put things in place to prioritize our needs.”




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