ELKO – Elko City Council has locked in a location for a future fire station in the northern part of the city.
The council voted Oct. 9 to reserve three city-owned land parcels on Ruby Vista Drive, a site where the Elko Fire Department would like a fire station built to provide better coverage for the north side of town.
A station on that site would reduce response times critical for medical calls and fires, Assistant Fire Chief Jack Snyder told the council. He said the goal is a four-minute response time, which now can be 10 minutes to the north side.
“Times are crucial for us. Seventy percent of the time we’re not compliant with four minutes,” Snyder said, explaining that with heart attacks responses should be within six minutes and “fires double in size every minute.”
A fire station on Ruby Vista Drive would be a “prime location for coverage by the city,” he said.
Currently, the Elko Fire Department’s main station is at Elko Regional Airport at 911 West Idaho St., and Station 2 is at 725 Railroad St. Station 3 is at Lamoille Highway and South Ninth Street. The new station would replace the one on Railroad Street.
Fire Chief Matt Griego said on Oct. 10 the main station is the only one manned 24 hours by city firefighters. The other two stations house fire trucks for volunteer firefighters.
“What would happen with the downtown station?” asked Councilwoman Mandy Simons. Snyder said that would be up to the city.
Councilman Reece Keener said he thought it was important for long-term planning to reserve the three parcels of land for a fire station, and Councilman John Patrick Rice, who was acting mayor for the meeting, said that it seemed to be “the direction to go.”
City Manager Curtis Calder said the city at one time thought part of those the city-owned parcels might be used for an Interstate 80 exit when Great Basin College was looking at acquiring the Elko County Fairgrounds to expand the college.
The Elko Band Council of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone also was interested in buying the property in 2011, according to Elko City Council minutes from that time. The Elko Band wanted the property for a cultural center.
The three parcels now reserved for a fire station total four and a half acres at and around 1401 Ruby Vista Drive. The building since torn down at the address was last used as the Family Resource Center but earlier as the senior center and even earlier as a golf club house.
In the minutes from November 2011, former council member Richard Perry stated that the parcels wouldn’t be residential because it is next to the freeway and near city infrastructure, but the land could become a police or fire station site in the future.
The 2011 council voted against selling the land to the Elko Band Council.
The designation of the four and a half acres for a future firehouse is a preliminary step. No money has been budgeted for a fire station.
Elko Fire Department also received council approval this week to apply for a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant for a new aerial ladder truck to replace one that is 30 years old. The total cost would be roughly $957,242 with a 10 percent match from the city of $95,000.
“It will be awesome if we get it,” Snyder said.
With the grant providing all but the $95,000, the city would save money that could go toward a future fire station, Keener said.
Calder said the match would be budgeted next year should the grant be approved.
The council also approved seeking a Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant to be used for 16 mobile radios and accessories and 50 portable radios and accessories to improve emergency communications, including with Elko police and ambulance.
The cost would be roughly $353,208, and the city’s 10 percent match would be $35,320.
Snyder said the department sought the FEMA grant last year but didn’t get it, so the department trimmed the number of radio requests for a second attempt at the grant.
“I think we have a very good chance this year to be successful,” he said.
In the fire department-dominated meeting, Griego presented his quarterly report that showed scorched land totaled four and a half acres in the city, but hundreds of thousands of acres burned in the county.
Griecgo said the wildfires “are not done yet. We’re seeing a trend to year-round fires.”
The fire chief also told the council that all but one of the 23 Lee Engine Company volunteer firefighters who assist the Elko Fire Department are now certified firefighters, and the final one is completing the work.
“Volunteers will soon be 100 percent certified,” Griego told the council.
Certification didn’t use to be a requirement for the volunteers, but he said that with the liability issues and complexity of firefighting now, the volunteers should be at least level-one certified.
Although the fire department was the focus the council meeting, the council also formally accepted the second phase of the Cedar Street construction project. The final cost was slightly more than $1.7 million.
Extra work raised the cost by $43,174 from the initial bid, according to Public Works Director Dennis Strickland, who said the street is now done to D Street and the final phase will be started in “about a year and a half.”