WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published August 03, 2011, 10:09 PM

GFFD Wants New Fire Station

The Grand Forks Fire Department wants to expand. The southeast portion of the city is growing and the fire department says it needs another station.

A growing Grand Forks means a greater need for safety. The fire department is asking the city for a new station and more firefighters, which could mean an increase in your taxes.

"The average response time in the city of Grand Forks in 2010 was 3.89 minutes, and we noticed in that southeast portion of the city it's gone from 5 to 5.89 minutes," Battalion Chief Kelli Flermoen said.

The national standard for response time is four minutes. The fire department says this new station will help them meet that standard.

"We'll be able to do fire suppression, rescue operations, medical emergencies. We need to get on scene quicker in order to increase survivability," Flermoen said.

The cost of the new station could be covered by city funds, but an estimated $1.2 million is needed to fund the extra man power.

"The cost will be covered by a mill increase over the next four years-- we'll increase the mills to four," Grand Forks City Council Member Doug Christensen said.

That's an increase of about $4.50 each year for every $100,000 value of a home.

The city's continued growth has proved that this is a need that can't be ignored. The fire department hasn't added staff since 1972.

"In 1972 we had one firefighter per 1,950 citizens. And today we have one firefighter per 2,910 citizens. So yes, our city has grown and it's just natural that our fire department would also have to grow," Flermoen said.

"There's no doubt that that's the area of town that will grow the most in the next 10-15 years, the south is the area of growth in this town," Christensen added.

The finance committee will review costs on Monday. Then the proposal will go up for vote with the city council. If passed, construction would begin in 2015 and the facility will be open in 2016.