By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past several years, Webster Township officials have discussed the possibility of building and manning a fire hall adjacent to the township hall.
“Basically our goal in establishing a fire hall here that is manned, 24/7 or anything less than that, is to cut down on response times,” said Webster Township Supervisor John Kingsley during the March 20 regular board meeting.
Dexter Area Fire Department (DAFD) Fire Chief, Robert Smith, was present during the meeting.
Smith said Webster Township currently has a response time from DAFD of about 10 minutes, give or take depending on the location in the township, traffic issues and which DAFD station responds. He added having a manned fire station near the town hall could cut that response time down and have profound effects on public safety in the area.
Smith encouraged the board to move forward on building the fire hall in the township. He added that the only way to have a better response time is to have that fire hall manned. With that said, Smith said he would work on budgeting to allow for staffing it. He also added he routinely applies for grants that may be available to the DAFD.
Smith said one grant available would help pay for staffing for the new fire hall.
“The federal government will pay for the majority of the staffing of this hall for the first three years,” said Smith if the grant is approved. “That will give the DAFD and municipalities time to look at what it will cost to staff this station.”
Based on his studies, Smith said it would cost approximately $300,000 annually to staff a Webster Township fire station.
Webster Township Trustee, Gary Koch, added that a Webster Township fire hall could also benefit the other municipalities in the DAFD (City of Dexter and Dexter Township).
“A car crash at Territorial and Huron River Drive, they [Webster Township] would probably get there quicker than the Dexter Township Station or the City of Dexter Station, depending on the time of day,” said Koch regarding traffic issues in the area.
Presented during the meeting was approximate cost of the fire hall – $2.5 million to build a 9,000 square ft. fire station. The board approved, in a 5-1 vote, to move forward in creating a manned fire station with a dollar amount not to exceed 2.5 million based on better response times. Trustee John Scharf cast the lone nay vote and Trustee John Westman was absent.
Scharf voiced concerns about staffing a new fire hall, about whether or not the DAFD board members supported the idea, and layout of a new fire hall.
“I absolutely support the construction of a fire hall on the property next to this property but I don’t think that we are prepared to move forward, I think we have more homework to do,” said Scharf during the motion.