Washington City Council Chambers

Washington City Council members last week approved a proposal to conduct a fire station location and Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating study.

Fire Chief Bill Halmich said the scope of work will both study where the best location of a new firehouse would be that address coverage deficiencies, as well as a “pre-survey” of the city’s ISO rating.

“Both aspects are essential for current and future fire department strategic planning and funding necessities,” he said.

The contract was awarded to Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) at the cost of $34,794. A discount was applied because Halmich is an International Association of Fire Chiefs member. The study will be funded with current capital improvement sales tax revenue. The proposal was approved with an 8-0 vote.

The ISO rating influences insurance rates at businesses and homes. An ISO study typically is conducted every 10 years. The most recent one was done about five years ago.

“This will tell us if there are any chinks in the armor,” Halmich said. “They will also be looking at road miles driven by the fire station.”

The most recent fire station location study was conducted in 1996 prior to the construction of fire stations No. 3 and No. 4.

According to Halmich, ESCI will assess fire station location needs based upon a data-driven evaluation of current and future service demands. The firm will conduct its study using the latest industry standards.

He added ESCI understands that the city is “particularly interested in evaluating the potential of two previously identified locations in the southeast portion of the city in addition to understanding how current and future growth patterns may impact service delivery.”

New Station

In August, Halmich told the city’s administration/operations committee a new station in the area of South Point Road would provide better service.

He said the decision is based on a hydrant census of the area, which indicates there is a need for more coverage.

The southeast area of Washington is full of growth, Halmich said. Many of the hydrants in the area are located more than 1.5 miles away from the nearest stations. That’s not ideal, he said.

Halmich said he would like to evaluate real estate options on South Point Road.

A new fire station could serve a dual purpose, also serving as a police substation, he added.

The study would determine if a building is needed in the area and other details.

One area being looked at is on an 18.2-acre plat near the Phoenix II development. The property is jointly owned by the city and Franklin County.

In late 2015, Phoenix Center developer Joe Vernaci said the land had limited commercial value because it would take a lot of excavation.