HANFORD — After years of talking about it but seeing little headway, a third fire station for the Hanford Fire Department seemed like a pipe dream; but that dream may soon be a reality.
“We expect plans to be submitted for plan check within the next two weeks,” Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle said. “We should be scheduling a groundbreaking in late October.”
The third fire station, to be located on city-owned property at the corner of 12th Avenue and Woodland Drive near the 12th Avenue/Hanford-Armona Road intersection, will cost about $2.9 million and is projected to open in July 2018, Hanford Battalion Chief Erik Brotemarkle said.
The city currently has two stations, one near Grangeville Boulevard and Redington Street, and the other at Houston and 10 ½ avenues. Brotemarkle said both of these stations will remain open and operational after the third station is built.
In 2006, a fire station study was conducted and pointed out areas in town where new fire stations should be in the future, Brotemarkle said. These locations included the area of Hanford-Armona Road and 12th Avenue; Centennial Drive and Grangeville Boulevard; and Lacey Boulevard and 9 ¼ Avenue.
Finally, two years ago, the department got the go-ahead to start the plans on the 12th Avenue and Woodland Drive station.
“We’re making slow progress, but it’s progress,” Brotemarkle said.
Brotemarkle said the new station is all about improving response times to emergency calls and better serving the growing Hanford community.
Back in 2006, the department responded to 55 percent of calls within five minutes, Brotemarkle said. Last year, the department only responded to 35 percent of calls within five minutes, he said. The number of calls for service has also increased by thousands over the last decade.
The Hanford Fire Department has long aimed to reach the National Fire Prevention Association standard to reach 90 percent of its calls within five minutes, including prep and drive time.
“This [new station] will definitely make a difference,” Brotemarkle said.
As far as staffing goes, Brotemarkle said the department will have to have more conversations with the city about what they can afford to do as time draws nearer for the new station to open next summer.
Right now, Brotemarkle said the department is able to maintain the minimum staffing level of eight people on duty at both of the stations, if not slightly more. He said the department has three units staffed at all times: two engines and one patrol unit.
For the firefighters, especially those who have been with the department for a long time, Brotemarkle said they are all excited to finally be getting that third station they have been talking about for over a decade.
“It’s been a very long time coming,” Brotemarkle said. “We’re all getting anxious.”
Pyle said funding from the project comes from development impact fees, which are allocated to the cost of new facilities. He also said the city received additional one-time payments from the state and county on property tax revenues.
As for the future, Brotemarkle said he hopes the city will continue to add more fire stations as Hanford grows.