Downtown Fire Station
Durango Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors met on Thursday, June 30 for a Special Meeting giving direction to Fire Chief Hal Doughty to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the District and the City of Durango regarding River City Hall property negotiations for the new downtown fire station. DFPD’s Board and Chief Doughty are eager for the outcome of the MOU as it will be presented to the City Council during their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 5. DFPD’s Board of Directors, led by President Samantha Gallagher, had discussion concerning the MOU echoing Chief Doughty’s excitement toward upcoming progress on the new downtown station. Chief Doughty stated that his most important goal in this venture is to give his crew healthy and livable conditions. The opportunity City Council has to sign this MOU would be an enormous step forward.
The Durango Fire Protection District has purchased property at 201 E. 12TH Street for the purpose of a new Downtown Fire Station. Project goals include moving all DFPD administration offices into the Old High School building. The Big Picture High School building is planned on being razed, with a new Apparatus Bay and Fire Station Crew Quarters being built. DFPD has a current proposal to the City of Durango to relocate the City, Police Department into this project as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why can’t the fire station be built somewhere out of town?
A: It is critical that emergency response forces have the ability to access emergency scenes quickly. In the case of medical emergencies, a factor of just a couple minutes can make the difference between life and death. Over 1600 times per year, citizens and visitors to Durango experience emergencies that require our response to the downtown core of our town, making it critical for us to have a response platform from which to serve that area.
Q: Why doesn’t the fire department stay where it is (River City Hall)?
A: The fire department doesn’t own River City Hall. Our City Council and DFPD agree that there are potentially higher and better uses for the River City Hall property with its river access, adjacency to the River Trail, potential tie-in for the north end of the downtown section of Main, and concerns about flood plain issues for an emergency service agency. For these reasons it makes the most sense to move the fire station to another location.
Q: If I live near the fire station, will I hear sirens all the time?
A: You will probably hear sirens a great deal less than you might expect. DFPD only uses sirens when there is a life-threatening situation we have been sent to. Further, it is uncommon for us to utilize the sirens until we encounter traffic that must move for us to respond through. All fire department emergency response vehicles have traffic preemption technology which allows us to change the traffic light in our favor allowing traffic ahead of us to clear while stopping opposing traffic making it safer and more expedient for the emergency response units to travel in town. Additionally, we utilize a nationally modeled system which determines at dispatch if an emergency response is required. This significantly decreases the number of calls that require us to use lights and sirens. The new location is just two blocks away from the River City Hall fire station, it is likely that if you currently hear sirens, you will probably still hear sirens from our new station. Our staff will do all they can to minimize the use of sirens in the neighborhood, while still assuring safety in the operation of our emergency vehicles.
Q: Why couldn’t you pick a different location for the station?
A: For 38 years, the fire department has served you from an undersized, unsafe, and inadequately equipped fire station. Over the last 5 years, the Fire District has worked diligently to identify possible locations that could accommodate the needs of the district and be within the response area needed to serve the downtown area. Over that time, we evaluated 31 specific properties, inquired about availability and tried to purchase several, attempted to work with our City Council and staff, worked to try to purchase private properties, partnered with consultants and development companies to explore options, and designed a fire station to be built on a site that was offered to us and then taken away after a significant amount of money was expended in the design phase of the project. When the 9R administration building became available, the Fire District participated in a fair, equal, and thorough process and was successful in being selected as the best offer for the property. Our efforts are solely in the interest of continuing to provide high quality service to our community. This property is the only place we have been able to secure to assure an adequate platform from which to serve you for years to come.
Q. Where have we looked for a new fire station location?
- Evaluated 31 individual properties – either single sites or combinations of multiple properties to acquire a big enough location for the Station. In each case there have been significant factors that prevented us from being able to replace the Downtown Fire Station
- At College and Main, on the City Lot in the railroad parking lot, we got as far as designing a fire station ($40,000 expense to design and complete architect’s rendering of what the station might look like) only to be shut down by political pressures on the City
- In total, of all locations we’ve considered, 10 are owned by the City of Durango, 14 are privately held, 2 are owned by C-DOT, 2 are owned by the County, 1 is owned by the US Postal Service, one is owned by the Division of Wildlife, and 2 are owned by the 9R School.
Q. Why must the fire station be in the core area of downtown?
- Fire station spacing requirements are based on ISO standards for fire protection
- Response capabilities for EMS services demand high volume areas target no longer than 4-8 minute responses (after 4-8 minutes without oxygen, the human brain suffers irreparable damage and death).
- Over 1600 times a year DFPD responds to the downtown core of Durango.
- Based on physical barriers, flood plains and response time requirements, our downtown station must be between the river and East 3rd Avenue and between College Drive and 14th Street.
Q. What will we do with the 9R Property?
- We believe that the location of this property is an outstanding platform from which to serve our community with emergency services now and in the future.
- Our intention is to keep the external shell (Historic) of the administration building intact and complete a renovation of the interior that would modernize the building to meet current safety and service codes along with deparatment needs.
- A fire apparatus building would be constructed adjacen to the administration building which would house the apparatus needed for downtown response and would be desiged to match the architectural characteristics of the historic building.
- Jack-arched carriage house styled doors would open to allow fire apparatus and ambulances to respond from the bays, enhancing the aesthetics of the historic structure.