West Fargo saved up to pay for upcoming fire headquarters
The city has already set aside about $10 million in capital improvement funds, which it will be able to use for construction of the anticipated 30,000 square foot building.
WEST FARGO — Now that the West Fargo Fire Department has purchased land for a new headquarters, officials are working on a plan to fund the estimated $10 million project without using special assessments.
The city has already set aside about $10 million in capital improvement funds, which it will be able to use for construction of the anticipated 30,000-square-foot building.
At an informational meeting of the City Commission on Monday, March 1, Chief Dan Fuller said he hopes to ask the City Commission for funding approval at the city's second meeting in March, when he will also propose forming a committee that will work together to approve a potential design. Fuller and the committee would request proposals from architects be returned by mid-April with the design phase continuing through June.
"By that time, hopefully we'd have a good design," Fuller said. "Then it really is a target of opportunity if we can do site work or not, if not we'd go into 2022."
Finance Director Jim Larson said the capital improvement plan has $10 million in funds dedicated to the expansion. If additional money is needed, up to about $4 million, the city could use bonding for it, which could be paid back through the city's sales tax.
"We will continue to look for any additional funding sources," Larson said. "It does not include any special assessments. Also, no operating revenues will be used towards this as well."
So far, Fuller has estimated the building would be similar to the city's newest station, the Southside Station, which houses full-time staff. However, Fuller has estimated he needs nearly double the size, or at least about 30,000 square feet. The total amount would include about 12,000 square feet for equipment and trucks and 7,400 square feet for firefighter living quarters, which would be room for up to nine full-time firefighters to live at the station when on duty.
"It would not be staffed for nine personnel in the beginning, but this is a site that we expect to last 50 years," Fuller said.
The current southside fire station is roughly 15,000 square feet, which is enough for five fire fire trucks and equipment, bedrooms for four firefighters and administrative space.
The new building would also include about 2,000 square feet of space for offices and shared space, 3,000 square feet for a training area and a new cold/hot zone, a place where contaminated fire equipment could be cared for.
Fuller said the cold/hot zones are being used by other fire departments in an effort to clean potentially dangerous chemicals that can cause health issues for firefighters. He said 33 percent of firefighters develop cancer nationwide.
While the station would be built to accommodate nine additional firefighters, Fuller said he would not be adding that many full-timers immediately. However, he wants to to build the station to accommodate the growing city.
He would likely house one battalion chief, three engine staff, four ladder staff plus seven administration and risk reduction personnel would be staffed there.
Fuller said additional staff would not be hired until about 2023.
Along with planning the building site, the city will be looking at needed improvements of streets in the area.
Planning Director Tim Solberg said a light at the corner of 10th Avenue is planned so that the trucks can more easily leave the area. Although it was included in the capital improvement plan, the timeline will likely need to be pushed up.
Fuller plans to request funding from the city at its March 15 meeting.