American Fork City will build a second fire station in the northeast part of town as part of our public safety master plan. This fire station would cost $8.5 million but wouldn't raise city debt because it would take the place of the current police station debt, which ends next year. Please see below to learn more about the need for a second fire station.
Why Do We Need a Second Fire Station?
The Mayor and City Council have been considering a second fire station for a number of years. They have spent a lot of time weighing the options and determining the real need. The City even worked with a company called Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), who specialize in researching public safety needs, to see what they would recommend. ESCI recommended four stations total (later revised to five), with two needed right now. By leveraging future roads like the Murdock Connector in the north, and the Vineyard Connector in the south, the city was able to revise that recommendation to just three station total. The end result is a recommendation that is efficient, cost effective, while still adequately servicing the community. But everyone agreed the need for a second fire station was immediate. Below are the main reasons American Fork is recommending a second fire station.
- Growing Demand. American Fork's current fire station (station 51) is the busiest in Utah County. In 2018 we responded to 3,182 calls for service. Other city's may have a higher total number of calls, but they also have more fire stations. This means their per fire station call volume is much lower. In fact, the second highest fire station call volume was less then half what American Fork does. As growth increases so to does the demand on our existing fire station.
- Concurrent Calls. When more than one call comes in at the same time it is called "concurrent" calls. AF City has the ability to handle more than one call at a time (to a point) because of the number of fire and ambulance apparatus we have. Additionally, if our units are tied up we can reach out to neighboring city's for help. But using outside agencies will reduce response time which is less ideal for emergencies. As more growth occurs we increase the likelihood of concurrent calls. Right now about 30% of the calls in American Fork are concurrent. With a second fire station concurrent calls would drop to about 5%, which means we'll be ready when our residents need us most.
- Improving Coverage. The national standard for responding to an emergency is 4-6 minutes. While virtually no city meets this goal perfectly, the more of your city that falls within this time the better. Thanks to ESCI's study we were able to assess that about 70% of our city falls within a 4-6 minute response time, with the northern portion of town being farthest away. This coverage is good, but it could be better. With a second fire station in the northeast part of town we would bring over 90% of American Fork within a 4-6 minute response time. See coverage maps below.
- Resident Insurance Ratings. Every city has an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which is used to determine how safe a city is. ISO ratings are scored 1-10 and, like golf, the lower the score the better. Currently American Fork has an ISO rating of 2, which puts us in the top 1% of the State. However, without another station to maintain our fire suppression coverage we risk slipping in our ISO rating, which would affect how much people pay for insurance in our community.
How Will We Pay For the Second Fire Station?
Capital Costs. The city is recommending that citizens approve a bond on this year's ballot for $8.5 million. This bond will pay for the land in the northeast part of town, the construction of a 15,000 sq. ft. fire station, and land acquisition for an additional fire station in the south part of town that will be needed in the future. Apparatus such as the fire truck, ambulance, and brush truck to outfit this new fire station have already been acquired as part of a contract to service Cedar Hills.
Now is the best time to bond for and construct the new fire station. The need is now, rates are low, and we can do this without increasing city debt. That is because by 2020 we will finish our debt payments for the city's police/courts building, which was more than what our new fire station will cost. Additionally, the next year (2021) the debt payments for our current fire station will end as well. This means we can build a new fire station and still lower our annual debt payments. Below is a graph that shows what the city's General Obligation (G.O.) debt will look like with the second fire station.
G.O. bonds are debt paid for by taxes. This graph doesn't include other non-G.O. bond debt, such as debt tied to utility fees, like the secondary irrigation debt payments.
Operating Costs. The Mayor and City Council are committed to funding this critical need and are considering a variety of options to fund operating expenses related to a second fire station. It will likely be paid for through several means, including revenue from emergency transports and from a fire service contract with Cedar Hills. Operating costs for a second fire station are also part of a larger property tax discussion American Fork city council is currently having along with funding critical infrastructure needs like roads and utilities.
Where Will the New Fire Station be Located?
The second fire station will be located in the northeast part of town. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Location. AF is looking to build the fire station in the northeast part of town because it will provide the best coverage to all of our current and future residents across the northern part of the city where some of the longest response times currently exist. The new fire station will cover the north, including the northwest, thanks to the recently approved Murdock Connector, which will begin construction in 2020. With this connector our fire department can cover over 90% of our community within the nationally recommended 4-6 minute response time.
- Gravity. Another reason ESCI recommended a station in the northeast part of AF is because of geography, more specifically elevation. Northeast is actually at a higher elevation from the rest of American Fork City, which allows for faster response times. Ambulances and fire trucks are big and heavy and can travel more quickly downhill then uphill, effectively increasing their range.
- Demand. Locating in the northeast also places the second fire station close to some key facilities that require a lot of demand from Fire & Rescue. These facilities include the Utah State Developmental Center, the Mt. Timpanogos Temple, and the AF Hospital. Additionally, American Fork will still be able to service Cedar Hills at this location.
What is the Timeline for This Fire Station?
The American Fork Fire Station Bond was on the ballot in 2019 and was approved. The new station will be completed in 2021-2022.
- ESCI Study
- ESCI Presentation
- Fire Impact Fees Facility Plan (IFFP) with revised 5 station recommendation
- Mock Renderings of New Fire Station
- Current and Proposed Fire Station Coverage Areas
- Needs Presentation to Council
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Arguments For and Against
- Mayor's Daily Herald Article - The Need for Safety