Hendersonville leaders gave the go-ahead on Tuesday to begin planning for a seventh fire station.
The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to appropriate $100,000 for the design and drawings for a new facility to be located north of the city in the Durham Farms subdivision.
Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, noted the city was recently reimbursed for deployments local firefighters made to assist other agencies in 2018.
“This money is coming back to us from deployments from the federal government,” said Brown. “We’re adding it to the general fund.”
Hendersonville Fire Chief Scotty Bush said the hope is to have drawings and a design completed in time to request funding for a new fire station in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget. Bush estimates the cost to be around $2 million to build a new fire station.
Bush requested the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) conduct an official study of the fire department in early 2017 to help determine where new fire stations should be built and in what order.
“The city has an imminent need for at least one fire station now, and the fire department has identified the need for at least three additional stations (including the one needed now) as growth occurs,” according to an MTAS Fire Station Prioritization Study released in March of 2017. “Hendersonville should plan to add at least three fire stations in future years. The city should build, equip, and staff the fire stations as soon as adequate funds are available.”
The study suggested general areas for new fire stations, but didn’t recommend exact locations.
The first station should be built in the center of the service area north of Vietnam Veteran’s Boulevard – “where most of the significant growth is occurring,” according to the report.
It suggested a second station be built in the west area, near the vicinity of Center Point Road and Hunts Lane; and a third location on the Cages Bend peninsula – an area in Hendersonville’s urban growth boundary that is not yet part of the city.
Durham Farms developers recently deeded land to the city for a new fire station – a stipulation when the 1,100-home subdivision was approved in 2013. The new station will be built on Avant Lane.
“This is the first step in moving forward in putting a new fire hall out around Durham Farms to service that area of the city,” said Brown, noting that the current response times to the area are around eight to 10 minutes. “That’s not protecting the folks out in that area the way we should be.”
Plans for an additional fire hall took a back seat when it was discovered in late 2016 that Fire Station 2 on Free Hill Road was structurally unsound. That facility, which also housed the department’s administrative offices, was torn down in August of 2017.
Firefighters have been running calls out of a public works building behind where the fire station used to be, and the department’s administrative offices were moved temporarily to a city-owned home on property known as the Batey Farm.
Bush said on Tuesday that a newly constructed Fire Station 2 is set to open around the end of February.