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Monday, May 2, 2016

Ash Flat Fire Department faces uncertainty during library construction

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ash Flat firefighters fighting a huge wildfire March 23 near Ash Flat.
While the city of Ash Flat anxiously awaits the construction of both a new library and fire department, the construction process for both establishments has caused a dilemma for the city: where to house the fire department during the construction of the library.

The city has received grants, as well as borrowed money to remodel the current Ash Flat Fire Department into the new library.

During the process of obtaining funding for the project, the city also began to secure land and funding to relocate the fire department to #5 Goodwin Cove, below Sonic in Ash Flat.

Currently, the new Fire Department building is in the bidding process, with final bids due by Aug. 26.

Depending upon the amount of the bids, there are two options for the building: a 10,300 foot facility, which will also house the police department, or a 9,000 square foot fire department, without the police department.

Contractors for the library are expected to begin construction on the old fire department within the next few weeks.

In order for Precision Construction to begin, supplies, equipment and furniture within the department must be moved.

Ash Flat Mayor Danny Traw proposed that the department move Fire Chief Stacy Horton's office into the back of the current building, and utilize a back bay for storage of trucks and equipment during the construction process.

Horton explained that, due to liability issues with the construction company, the department must move equipment and trucks during the next week or two.

Horton has no objection to moving his office into the back of the building.

The issue remains deciding where fire fighting equipment and supplies can be stored.

Horton explained the department suffers from a lack of storage area and federal and state laws require fire departments to house equipment and trucks, along with the firefighters, in an area where they can obtain the fastest response time.

Moving trucks to one location and supplies to another, can cause the city's response time to be cut down. Horton said he does not want that to happen.

Horton, who also serves as the city's Chief Safety Officer, has a duty to the citizens to insure their safety.

Currently, the city has a large ladder truck stored in the facility mentioned by the mayor.

Other trucks can not be left outdoors in the winter when the department moves out of the facility, because of freezing hazards on the equipment housed on the fire trucks.

Obviously the issue would have been avoided had the fire department been constructed prior to the library; however, the library was funded first, leaving the city with the dilemma of a location for the fire department during the construction process.

While a decision on a temporary headquarters must be made soon, Horton said after the bids are opened on the Aug. 26, it may still be as long as two years before construction is final on the new department building.

"We are going to have to make sure the people are protected," said Horton. "That is what our job is as a fire department."

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