Eastern Fire/EMS Substation Building Committee
This temporary Committee has been tasked with making design recommendations for a potential new Fire/EMS substation to be located in the eastern area of the City.
Through April 2023, an initial Eastern Fire/EMS Substation Committee worked to answer the question of whether there is a need for a staffed fire/EMS substation in the eastern area of the city. As part of that review, the committee was asked to make recommendations on several high level decisions, including:
- Where should the station be located?
- What services (and equipment) should be delivered from the station?
- Are there non-fire/EMS services that are currently critically needed by the City that could be incorporated into the station?
- The labor agreement between the Labor Union and City supports the employment of so-called ‘per diem’ staff to supplement the full-time members. Should the station be designed to incorporate these employees as well?
To address these questions, the committee was specifically charged with the following:
- The committee will evaluate the need for a staffed eastern substation.
- The committee will review the programing needs to gauge the scope and size requirements of a potential eastern substation.
- Should a need for such a substation to exist, the committee will recommend a location for an eastern substation that considers response times and other factors that would support the location recommended.
- The committee will consider capital costs and ongoing operational costs as significant factors in their development of any recommendations.
- The committee will review capital costs of any recommendations.
- The committee will review the findings and recommendations of the Center for Public Safety Management report. It shall consider that report as a fair, unbiased expert consultant engaged for the City.
Committee Recommendations - April 2023
Councilor Emhiser, the Chair of the Committee, presented the group’s findings at the April 18, 2023 City Council meeting.
2021 call response times for Eastern Biddeford showed that there is a significant number of calls with a greater than 6 minute response time. Six-minute response times are critical for positive outcomes in both fire and medical emergencies. Based on this data, the Committee identified “a strong need for a substation to improve response times to Eastern Biddeford”. The recommended location identified by the Committee for the substation would cover about 90-95% of the community with a 6-minute response time.
The committee recommended one Engine with 1800 gallon capacity and one ambulance be located at the substation. Given the cost benefit, it was agreed that initially using existing engine Squad 28 at the station would be an effective use of equipment.
Initial staffing is recommended to be two per shift, one of which is a paramedic. This would require the addition of four new positions, which could be added in stages over the coming budget cycles. In the interim, per-diem staff could be used. Ultimately, the ideal staffing recommendation would be a “company” with an Officer and two Privates per shift.
Additional City Services
The Committee determined that the cost benefit of providing additional City services out of the building does not warrant devoting space to these activities.
Size and Scope
The Committee determined that the size of the station should meet the needs projected for the next 10 years. Potential designs for three sizes of stations were evaluated. For a 6,000 to 7,500 square foot building, the cost would be between $3 and $4 million.
Final Recommendation and Request for Council
The Committee requested that City Council issues an RFP for $150,000 from previously appropriated funds for initial architectural and engineering design for a Substation. This will allow a firm basis for finalizing the appropriate size and shape and quantifying detailed costs for potential next steps. It will also provide details for potential grant applications.