Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series on Springdale’s proposed bond issue.
SPRINGDALE – Julie Rogerson and Ann Sugg both enjoy Fire Station No. 7 on Har-Ber Avenue.
Quick response times from fire department personnel saved Rogerson’s home from fire and Sugg, 92, from lying on the ground all night after a fall.
“I called them,” Rogerson said of the fire department. “I grabbed my dog and my purse, and there they were.”
Fire Station No. 7 — along with Stations No. 8 and 9 and a training center — was built with $16.4 million from a 2018 bond issue approved by residents.
The city will offer another bond issue to voters on May 9, which includes $7.8 million to build Station No. 10 and additional training structures.
Fire Chief Blake Holte said one station would suffice for now.
“We can’t neglect the city’s other infrastructure needs,” he said. “We depend on the roads to get to the stages. They go a long way to making us more efficient.”
Holte said the new station would be built somewhere along Wagon Wheel Road between North 40th Street and South Dixieland Road. Dixieland will be extended south to Wagon Wheel Road as part of the 2018 bond program.
Station No. 10 would serve the city’s north-central area, where the fire department currently has a service gap, Holte said.
Opening the station would involve more than construction costs. Stations No. 7, 8, and 9 were built for around $4 million. The station would also need vehicles. Holte said the department is considering what would be best for the fire department’s fleet. A new engine would cost around $750,000, he said. A ladder truck would cost around $1.2 million.
Holte said he expects the new station to be in service in about a year and a half if the bond issue is approved.
The entire city benefits from having firefighters nearby, Mayor Doug Sprouse said.
In 2017, the fire department received the highest possible fire insurance rating from the Insurance Services Bureau of Jersey City, New Jersey. Home insurance rates are reduced for homeowners in a city with the highest rating, Sprouse noted.
The new station would help the department retain the top rating in the city, Sprouse said.
In the formation
The department also hopes to build training structures near Fire Station No. 4.
The city’s busiest station has outgrown its current building on Elm Springs Road. Its replacement will be built about a block south, just off White Road. The city will use money from its general fund to build the new No. 4 station, and all equipment will be transferred, Holte said.
The department owns about 5 acres on the site, which will provide room for training structures, Holte said.
The site will not have the live-fire training capability as it does at the Mickey Jackson Fire Training Center in the city’s industrial park, he said.
“But there will always be a place where we can pull ladders and throw pipes,” he said.
The location of Station #4 will allow for a centralized training center for stations on the west side of town. To train at the Mickey Jackson Center, these stations had to cross the city, leaving uncovered areas.
City officials also hope the bond money can expand the training center with features for technical rescue training in situations such as a trench, a collapsed building and confined spaces.
In the north
The city also considered building Station No. 10 on land donated for the purpose in the southeastern part of the city.
Holte said the department doesn’t have coverage issues in the south as it does in the north.
The city moved station No. 3 north to North Thompson Street, just south of County Line Road, with the money from a 2o13 bond issue.
Station No. 7 and Station No. 9 were built from 2018 bonds in the city’s northwest quadrant – where city officials expect more residential development. But a map still shows a coverage gap in the north-central part of the city.
The bypass of US 612 and the expansion of JB Hunt Transport offices are expected to result in additional calls for the fire department, Sprouse added. Holte said the Lowell Fire Department has limited staff and either Springdale or Rogers departments help the small town in many situations.
The city plans to build an 11th station as Springdale continues to grow, Sprouse said.
“And for fire protection, we’re not just concerned with how long it takes for a truck to reach a fire scene,” Holte said. “But we are concerned about the time it takes for several trucks to get to the scene.”
The fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, Holte said. In three minutes, smoke and heat can ruin everything in the house.
A first alarm for a house fire puts four engine companies, a ladder truck, an ambulance, a battalion chief and 16 firefighters on call, Holte said. A commercial alarm sends more.
The Springdale Fire Department is working to send at least 17 people to put out a house fire, Holte said.
Julie and Kirk Rogerson were sitting at home a year ago on March 18. Their gas fireplace was on and they were listening to the Razorback baseball game on the radio, Julie explained.
She said they heard a loud pop, the radio cut out and she heard what sounded like a crackling bonfire in their wall.
Julie Rogerson said firefighters said the house was only five or 10 minutes away from a rooftop fire.
Firefighters also covered the family’s new sofa before starting to tear down the wall. Rogerson said they helped minimize the damage.
“We know 100% that they saved our house,” Rogerson said. “We are big fans.”
Sugg lived alone during the pandemic to protect her from covid-19. Her son and daughter-in-law who lived with her continued to work and they did not want to bring the virus home.
“I fell three times,” Sugg said. “I called the fire department, and they came and helped me up. They were a big help. It’s hard to have someone to help me in the middle of the night.”
Sugg said she wore an emergency alert button, which she pressed when she needed help.
“I was amazed at how quickly they got there,” Sugg said.
Sugg said she was not injured, but would have been lying on the ground until someone came to get her.
“They also come to check my smoke detectors,” Sugg said. “I love the firefighters. They’ve been good to me.”
Springdale residents will vote on a $360 million bond issue on May 9. The ballot contains six questions.
The estimated costs and projects are:
$135 million for street improvements
$16.3 million for park improvements
$16.3 million for a new senior center
$7.8 million for a new fire station and other improvements
$142 million to refinance debt on 2018 bonds
$44 million to refinance 2020 bonds