Sherman Fire-Rescue is considering hiring consultants to evaluate the department’s layout and coverage area in the years to come. This comes amid recent talks by city officials on merging two stations and the upcoming review of the city’s ISO insurance rating.
“We’ve even looked as far out as station seven and station eight,” Chief Danny Jones said, noting the department currently has five stations. “However, this whole thing is fluid and can change.”
Officials with the city said they expect to have a proposal for the consulting agreement before the City Council some time in September.
Jones said part of the consultant’s work will be to evaluate and assess the city’s ISO rating, which is used in determining insurance costs. The rating, which is set every 10 years, considers local fire service, water availability and dispatch services, among other criteria.
The rating was last set in 2011, with the area scoring a two out of 10 — the second highest rating on the scale. With the consultant’s help, Jones said he hopes to maintain if not improve the score when it is reevaluated in 2021.
Among the projects Jones foresees coming out of the consultant’s recommendations is a merger of fire stations one and two. Fire officials previously talked about the proposed project earlier this year during budget discussions and talks regarding the proposed new Sherman Police Station.
As a part of the $15 million police station project, the existing station would be renovated and members of Sherman Fire-Rescue administration would be moved over to the existing building. This would free up central station to return back to service as a traditional fire station.
However, fire officials proposed the merger of stations one and two as an alternative earlier this summer. The need to redistribute the stations comes as the city has seen growth in recent years, particularly to the west along the FM 1417 corridor. The location of stations one and two may have fit the city’s needs 50 years ago, but do not reflect the Sherman of today, officials said.
“If the city did not grow one lick from here on out, we’d still be looking for a better location for a station that could better serve our city,” City Manager Robby Hefton said in June.
Jones said the station would likely be located somewhere between the two stations east of the railroad tracks. The ideal location would also fall somewhere between Houston and Lamar as the one-way roads give easy access for emergency vehicles.
“We’ve identified a couple locations that encompass our downtown area and encompasses most of what station two covers now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the department is also considering the relocation of another of its stations to be closer to recent growth. Earlier this month, city officials talked about the future relocation of station five from its current location of Frisco Road to somewhere closer to the Sherman Town Center.
Jones said the move would likely put the station somewhere along Gallagher Drive as it would be difficult to place it any further west due to site constraints.
Earlier this month, the city purchased a commercial building adjacent to station five to serve as a storage facility for the time being. Jones recently submitted a request to move forward with construction project at station four that he hopes will include a storage building, training facility and tower.
The department plans to bundle the two buildings at station five together once it decides to sell the facility following the move, Jones said.
The final project the department expects will be suggested in the survey will be a sixth fire station covering the fast western portions of the city.
“I think there is a 110 percent chance (it will be suggested) because on our 2011 rating it recommended stations to the west,” Jones said. “We kinda had an idea that things were already growing at that time.”
The best location for a sixth station would be somewhere in the Swan Ridge area, located near the intersection of State Highway 56 and FM 1417, Jones said.
Jones gave no timeline for the proposed changes, but said the merger would likely be the first to see work. The creation of a new station brings its own challenges that wouldn’t need to be addressed in the other two projects.
“There a whole lot of things that go into making a new station,” he said. “We will need people and we will need equipment.”