ARCADIA - - If you feel you have so much stuff that your house feels cramped, just imagine what it would be like if it wasn’t just stuff, but equipment that saves lives and people’s property. That’s the exact problem the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Department and EMS have.
Last Sunday, the Arcadia Fire Department and EMS conducted an open house so that the public could see how cramped they really are and some of the dangers involved. Their hope is that the citizens of Arcadia and the surrounding areas will see the need for a new facility.
Currently, emergency responders are housing their equipment in four different facilities, one being the original fire hall. They experience such problems as lack of space for 30 members to hold a meeting, insufficient space for training, the need to shuffle vehicles to keep the water supply in the fire trucks from freezing in the winter, the ability to pull rescue vehicles from the garage in a timely manner, and not having an emergency power source in case of a power outage. These are just a few of the problems Arcadia currently faces.
When talking to volunteers, there is a real sense of urgency in their voice as they share an instance when the primary ambulance would not start. They were unable to get the secondary rescue unit out of the hall due to the fact that it has to be parked behind the divider between the two garage doors. Responders ended up putting the first ambulance into neutral and pushing it out of the garage so they were able to pull the secondary ambulance out, loosing critical response time.
“We work very hard to get and do everything we can do as far as workshops and training, but we are hampered by the lack of a facility to insure quick response,” said Maryanne Paide.
In the winter, the grass fire unit has to be parked in the spot where the secondary rescue unit is parked so that the water in the tank does not freeze. This is because the original Arcadia fire hall is not heated, yet this puts the ambulance that has to be moved to the unheated building at risk of not starting due to the cold.
There are no generators in the current fire hall, (the old Co-op building). If power is lost at the fire station, the radios will not operate, the automatic doors won’t open, and the whistle will not blow, critical in an emergency to alert emergency personnel and/or residents that there is an immediate danger, such as a tornado.
The large pumper has to be backed from the street around the corner to the garage in the rear of the building as this is the only place it fits. In most of the areas in the four buildings, there is less than two feet of space between bumpers and walls, hampering the movement of firefighters attempting to get to their equipment and get dressed.
There is good news, the ground for a new fire hall has already been donated by Walter Bumgarner, and a development plan complete, what is needed is funding.
It will cost approximately $515,000 for a new facility with enough space to house Arcadia’s fire and rescue units, adequate space for training, outside power sources and a tornado sheltered radio room.
The passing of a bond would not raise taxes but allot a certain percentage of current revenue to the building of a new structure. The figure would be about $38 per $100,000. The current building is owned by the city of Arcadia and there are proposed future uses.
The Rural Fire Board is looking for public input. They want to make sure that a bond for a new fire hall is something that residents in the area are in favor of. They hope to vote on the bond within the next couple of months, and would like for people to get in touch with local responders and the Rural Fire Board to give their opinion.
“Everybody has been very responsive about what we need, and the price of a building is not going to get any cheaper. The longer we wait, the higher prices will get.” said Steve Kats, President of the Rural Fire Board.
The Rural Fire Board meetings are open to the public, and residents are invited to attend.