Currently the Ash Flat Fire Department is housed in a small room at the old headquarters location, as the building undergoes its transformation into a library. Although the city spent over $20,000 on a pole barn to house fire trucks, firefighters are working out of a small area in the back of the current location during the construction process.
The only council discussion about the fire department's future came when Mayor Danny Traw was asked when a specification book would be ready, so the project can be put out to bid again. Traw said he had spoken with local architect Larry Bronson, who is working on the project. Bronson has been asked to prepare documents to, "insure all bidders were on a level playing field." He and Traw are negotiating a fee for Bronson to assemble the spec book. He also said he has made the mayor aware of requirements to allow for fair competition during the bid process. Bronson said the committee is still working on specifications for the fire department and, by state codes, the cost must also cover insurance and bonding, which were not included in the original estimate presented by Driesel at an Oct. 14 meeting to discuss alternate plans for the station.
Controversy first erupted when bids to build on land on Highway 62/412 near Sonic, were determined to be too high. Mayor Danny Traw rejected the bids after holding two public meetings to discuss them. Traw favored buying the Dillard auto dealership building and refurbishing it for a fire station and municipal offices.
Because no agreement on plans could be reached, the mayor appointed a committee to study the issue and come up with a plan for the department.
Rob Driesel, chairman of the committee, explained the findings at the Oct. 14 meeting, and offered a recommendation during a presentation to the council.
The committee spoke with various individuals, including Fire Chief Stacy Horton, Captain Jared Allen and Lt. Adam Bates, as well as consulting other fire departments and representatives from state government.
Driesel explained the main purpose of the committee was to ensure the city gets a firehouse.
Two options were explored and Driesel explained the committee took into consideration the original plan to build the new fire house versus purchasing the Dillard auto dealership building.
Driesel said they considered the needs of other municipal offices including city hall, water and sewer, and the police department. Currently, the city is renting a building for $900 month to accommodate the police department. City Hall is very close to the new five-lane construction and losing much of its parking, due to the project.
The committee recommended the city purchase the Dillard building because it would be useable for city offices. Driesel explained the back area could be used for street maintenance, since there is already a shop, and would require no additional construction.
The extra bay of the building could be utilized by the police department to keep vehicles out of the weather and for servicing them. The city could also use the parts room as a police department, and the front half of the building could house city hall offices.
The seven acres included with the building allow ample space to construct a new fire station. Driesel explained, to keep the cost affordable, a prefabricated building could be used, with labor to be performed by local contractors, keeping some of the money within the community. The other option is to have the kit company build the entire building.
According to Driesel, either option can be built for a lot less than constructing the fire station building at the proposed property near Sonic. By trimming down some of the extras, the $625,000 cost will solve all the issues involving the city.
Council also voted to put a new roof on the former fire headquarters building where the new library is being built.
Bronson said Larry Johnson, with Precision Plus -- the contractors who are responsible for the construction of the library -- will put a new roof on the entire building, including the portion utilized by the fire department.
Bronson said the mayor indicated there were a few leaks in the building at the time the library project began. More leaks became prevalent and an attempt to have the leaks repaired by a local contractor was not successful, due to heavy rains and cold weather causing the caulk to shrink.
Currently, there are 18 leaks in the roof and Bronson said the new roof was something that was badly needed. The city council voted to fund the project.