Firefighters stretched while responding to Lemon Creek emergencies
City officials want to build a new fire station in the Lemon Creek area.
It’s now the busiest area for medical and fire calls with 550 mobile homes located there and several multi-family units planned for the area.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure that if someone is having a really bad day, that we’re there to make it a little bit better as quick as possible,” said Fire Chief Rich Etheridge of Capital City Fire and Rescue.
While CCF&R already serves Lemon Creek with crews dispatched from either the downtown or airport stations, Etheridge said it really takes too long for them to get to the scene.
“People in Lemon Creek are kind of in the middle. They’re at the far end of both districts,” Etheridge said.
For instance, to go from the downtown fire station into the Churchill Trailer Court area, it takes about eight minutes of driving time. In an emergency, that’s a huge amount of time. Some of the rules of thumb are (that) a fire doubles in size every minute. So, if you figure if there’s eight minutes of just driving to the scene, the fire could be very well entrenched by the time we get there. And if somebody is not breathing, you start having brain damage occurring in four to six minutes and no oxygen.”
Etheridge said the industry standard calls for getting emergency medical technicians or firefighters out of a station within a minute. Drive time to the scene should take no more than four minutes.
Juneau has got a lot of challenges because we’re very long and linear. Most communities are more square-shaped so it’s easier to distribute stations. To get that drive-time down, we would need to have some stations in between, where some communities wouldn’t.”
Etheridge said a Lemon Creek fire station would have an ambulance with EMTs and a truck company with an aerial ladder truck to allow firefighters to get onto the roof of multi-story structures. Such an apparatus also would carry more rescue tools and equipment than other engines.
The new fire station has been identified as a department priority for fiscal year 2015 in the CBJ capital improvement plan. Total cost is estimated at $10.5 million. City officials have already asked Juneau’s legislative delegation for $900,000 state funding for station planning and design.
Etheridge said a shovel-ready design would allow the fire department to qualify for federal grants to offset construction costs.
He said the city owns several parcels of land in the area that could be used for a station. His preference is a facility on Glacier Highway near the new Public Works vehicle shops, the Juneau Police Department, or a similar location that would provide safe and quick access to a main thoroughfare.