Sherman considers expanding, reallocating fire coverage

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sherman Assistant City Manager Clint Philpott discusses possible expansions of Sherman fire service Thursday during a capital projects meeting with the city council

Amid continued growth in new parts of the city, Sherman is weighing it options on how to optimize city fire service resources . As growth has continued on the city's western and southern borders, city officials think that it is time to look at providing additional service to these areas.

City officials discussed the need for additional services, particularly in high growth regions of Sherman, this week as a part of a City Council capital projects meeting Thursday. This meeting allowed city staff to discuss possible major projects coming up over the next five years ahead of the city council budget retreat next month. 

"Now we have development here, we have development here," Assistant City Manager Clint Philpott said Thursday while gesturing toward west and south Sherman on a map. "We have development everywhere. So, trying to find the best location for those (stations) is something we are starting to look at."

Decades ago, downtown Sherman was the heart of the city, both figuratively and literally, as development flocked to the city's core districts. However, since then, the city has continued to sprawl and what was once the heart may no longer be that center.

In recent years, city officials have discussed the potential merger of fire stations one and two into one centralized location. While both stations serve the portions of downtown and its surrounding areas, there is some overlap and merging these into one location could increase efficiency, city officials previously said.

"Obviously as we grow, there is a need to look at locations for fire departments," Philpott said. "As you can imagine, back in the day when stations one and two were put together that was where much of the need was."

Meanwhile, it has been nearly 40 years since the department has added a new fire station to the city. While new stations have been built in this time, they have primarily been to relocate existing stations to better serve modern needs and have not expanded the service capacity to the city.

Over the years, the city has shifted these resources to including new up-and-coming areas. As an example, the Sherman Town Center area and northwest Sherman was previously targeted as a major growth area.

Now, west and south Sherman are seen as that focus area for development. Currently, all four of the city's ongoing planned developments are located in either western or southern Sherman. This includes the multi-use Bel Air Village project along FM 1417 and the proposed Shepherd's Crossing development, which has been gone before city council yet.

City Manager Robby Hefton said that the city should have at least one new fire station planned for development in the next five years. However, he did not commit to one specific area. However, the Highway 56 corridor could be a good location to service west Sherman.

The council took no action on the recommendations Thursday and used the discussion as an informational item. Currently, city officials are planning to budget about $1.5 million for land acquisition in 2023 for possible locations.