Study calls for new fire station

Site at airport best location for community, analysis shows

Grand Junction Fire Department engine 2 arrives back at the fire station at Patterson and 28¼ roads after a busy day. A study shows that the greatest need for a new fire station is in the north end of the city, and a site near Grand Junctional Regional Airport would be the optimum location.

A recent study shows the most savings and community benefit would be derived from a new fire station for the Grand Junction Fire Department shared with and located at the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

City officials have known since 2008 they need to locate a fire station in the north end of the city, an area with some of the city’s most rapid growth, Grand Junction Fire Chief Ken Watkins said.

A study commissioned by the city and reviewed by Grand Junction City Council at Monday night’s workshop showed that although a location off H Road just west of the airport might be better for response times and call loads for the city, a station at the airport would benefit the overall community.

“With our call load distribution, if you lived in that area you would want a fire station there,” Watkins said about the north area of Grand Junction. “The challenge is with finances to get this done. It’s a great opportunity to look at this. What’s the best way to set up a fire department in this community?”

Combining Grand Junction Fire Department staffing and resources with the Grand Junction Regional Airport would be the most cost-effective option, overlapping services and resources, the study said. A site off Landing View Lane, a road that parallels the airport’s main runway to the south, is identified as the best location. That area also is within the airport’s range to quickly respond to emergencies there. Airport emergency officials must be able respond to the runway within three minutes to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Watkins said.

The average travel time for a Fire Department vehicle to reach a call outside the airport from that location on Landing View Lane would be 4.8 minutes, while the average distance to respond to a call would be 2.3 miles, the report said.

A station located at H Road east of the Highline Canal would offer the quickest travel times. That location would offer average travel times of 3.9 minutes with fire officials traveling an average estimated distance of 2 miles, the report said.

Watkins said it costs about $1.5 million a year to staff a fire station with an engine crew and ambulance crew. A fire station costs about $4 million for the building and equipment, not including the purchase price of land.

Some of those costs could be shared with a combined facility, the report said.

Grand Junction fire stations No. 3, 585 25½ Road, and No. 2, 2827 Patterson Road, are the busiest of the department’s five stations. They also are located the closest to the north area of the city, which may mean firefighters from other stations may have to travel to the north end of the city during busy times, Watkins said.

The study was conducted with an emphasis on location in reference to target responsive area (or areas with the highest number of calls or requiring the most services, like a hospital), growth, potential traffic congestion and relative development cost.

Councilors on Monday night said they are interested in talking more about the study results with airport officials.

The study was conducted by TCA Architecture and Planning and Roth Sheppard Architects. Costs of the final study are expected to be less than $50,000. The city obtained a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to cover 50 percent of the costs. The remaining fees will be divided equally between the city and the airport.


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