New fire station groundbreaking brings Madison closer to quicker response times for southeast side
People living on Madison’s southeast side routinely have to wait 10 to 15 minutes for emergency crews to respond.
The city hopes opening Fire Station 14 near the intersection of Dairy Drive and Femrite Drive will change that. Construction begins Monday.
When complete, the $6.4 million Fire Station 14 will include a community room as well as a training room for firefighters and recruits.
Currently, the closest stations to serve the area are Station 6 on Badger Road and Station 5 on Cottage Grove Road. During rush hour, it can take between 10 to 15 minutes to get to the southeast corner of the city.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Fire Chief Steven Davis. “The area didn’t just pop up overnight. So we’ve known for a number of years that we’ve had to expand service to the southeast quadrant of the city.”
Davis said his department has known about the underserved area since 2005. Since then, the response time has lagged for the 7,000 to 10,000 people living on the city’s southeast side.
The National Standard calls on fire departments to get to emergency scenes within five minutes 90 percent of the time. Last year, the Madison Fire Department achieved that turnout just 65 percent of the time.
Davis said a growing number of calls from a growing number of people has made it impossible to achieve that standard.
“We worked with the mayor’s office and the alders,” said Davis. “We’re at a point now where we can’t provide adequate service that these folks are already paying for, so we have to look to expand.”
When the station is finished in December, Davis said crews will be able to respond to all calls within five minutes.
The department hired 18 additional people to staff the station, thanks to a “safer grant” from the federal government. The grant will pay the additional responders for the first three years, allowing the city to take on additional costs over a period of time.
The new responders are currently in the training academy, but not all of them will work at the new station.
“It won’t be brand-new people,” David explained. “There may be some new people, but usually, we put a mix of experienced and newer folks together.”
Another unique feature of the new station is its apparatus floor, where firefighters will undergo physical agility testing and indoor training.
The new station will be staffed with four first responders and a fire engine at all times.
The city will hold a ceremony when the station is complete. Instead of the traditional ribbon-cutting, firefighters will cut a hose.
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