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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Dylan Poe, a Springdale firefighter, displays an air tank pack from Engine 4 at Fire Station 4 at 3420 Elm Springs Road. The city proposes three new fire stations in it's upcoming bond issue. One will be in the far northwest corner of Springdale. The area currently covered by Station 4.

SPRINGDALE -- Andrea Lampe-Welch looks forward to working with a team to care for her son, Grady. The 10-year-old suffers from lissencephaly or "smooth brain," meaning parts of his brain lack normal folds.

His condition leads to pulmonary and neurological problems and frequent trips to the emergency room.

Editor’s Note

This is the second in a six-part series on the proposed Springdale bond issue. For previous stories, visit

Special election

Springdale residents will vote on a $200 million bond issue that would pay for projects in five areas. The sixth question on the ballot asks voters to renew a 1 percent sales tax to pay the bonds. The renewal must pass for any of the projects to be funded.

Estimated costs and projects are:

• $71.4 million for street improvement.

• $47.4 million to refinance debt.

• $40.8 million for a criminal justice center and renovate the city administration building.

• $19.4 million for parks and trails.

• $16.4 million for three fire stations.

• $5.2 million to replace the animal shelter.

Source: Staff report

Grady's care team would include Lampe-Welch, her family and friends and the paramedics assigned to a Springdale Fire Department station proposed for the northwest part of the city near Elm Springs.

"Our paramedics are very good," Lampe-Welch said. "They know him really well. They are so helpful any time, and they help me build contraptions that allow us to wait until tomorrow morning to go to the hospital.

"I look forward to making relationships with them. It will be helpful to know they are there, and I can just put Grady in the car and drive over there to get an opinion. It's like a team."

The construction of a northwest station and two others in the city would be paid for with proceeds from a $200 million bond issue. Voters will be asked to approve five projects and the renewal of a 1-cent sales tax to pay off the bonds at a Feb. 13 election.

The fire stations would be at Kawneer Drive and East Huntsville Avenue in the city's industrial area, on Har-Ber Avenue across from Hellstern Middle School and at Ball Road and Downum Road in the far northwest corner of the city.

Voters will be asked to approve $16.4 million for the stations. The city allocated $3 million per station for construction, Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said. Additionally, the bond issue could pay for three engines and a ladder truck for each station. A new engine can cost about $500,000 and a ladder truck about $1 million, said Springdale Fire Chief Mike Irwin.

The department also plans to replace a 1994 rescue truck.

The design of the Har-Ber station is completed, so construction could begin immediately, Sprouse said.

Mobilizing manpower

Fire doubles in size about every minute, Irwin said.

"In 15 minutes, your house can be gone," he said. "In a structure fire, you need 15 people to eliminate the fire, and currently, it takes eight to 10 minutes to get 15 people on the scene."

An initial alarm for a house fire puts on call three engine companies, a ladder truck, paramedics and a battalion chief. A commercial alarm sends more. The department looked at where personnel are when deciding where to put new stations, Irwin said.

The stations would improve response times, he said. The National Fire Protection Association, which sets guidelines for fire departments, recommends each station have no longer than a four minute trip to a scene.

Irwin said with the new fire stations operating, firefighters could reach 61.9 percent of the areas in town within four minutes and 96.4 percent in eight minutes. Traffic and road conditions could affect those times, he said.

Calls from the remaining 40 percent would take a few minutes longer and are areas with fewer calls, Irwin said.

Rising responses

Discussion of fire station locations also considered the number of calls.

"We tried to prioritize," Irwin said. "We took a look at calls and location and tried to locate the newer stations where they would have a bigger impact."

The proposed Har-Ber and Huntsville stations will be in populated areas that made a lot of calls, Sprouse said.

Fewer calls come from the northwest part of town, but the response times -- 12 to 18 minutes -- justify the need for a station, Sprouse continued. That area is served by Station 4 on Elm Springs Road.

The mayor predicts the new Shaw Family Park and even the fire station would spur development in the area.

"We expect to see more rooftops and more and more call volume in that area," Sprouse said.

The station would sit on the northwest corner of the park, another project that is part of the bond issue.

"For every three homes built, calls increase by one" annually, Irwin said, citing city data based on the U.S. Census. The Fire Department responded to 8,347 calls last year, compared with 7,795 in 2016, Irwin said. He attributed the increase of 552 calls to more residents.

The city moved two stations in 2015. Sprouse said that helped the city earn the best fire insurance rating possible from the Insurance Services Office in Jersey City, N.J. The rating goes into effect in February, and home insurance rates should drop.

The three proposed stations would help the city keep this highest rating.

"ISO is looking at our response times, how quickly we are out the door and on the scene," Irwin said. "As the city grows and its area gets bigger, this could be a real struggle. The issue's not there yet, we're just trying to get ahead of the curve."

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Engine 4 sits Wednesday in front front of Fire Station 4 at 3420 Elm Springs Road in Springdale. The city is proposing adding three fire stations in it's upcoming bond issue. One will be in the far northwest corner of Springdale. The area currently covered by Station 4. The stations would improve response times, officials say.

NW News on 01/14/2018

Print Headline: Bonds bring hopes for quicker emergency response

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