If budget requests are appropriated in the future, Branson Fire and Rescue could grow substantially over the next five years.
The city’s five-year capital improvements plan calls for two additional fire stations, a new engine and ladder truck spread over that time frame.
“With the five-year plan, we want to measure those items against both the new city strategic plan and the fire department’s goals and objectives,” Fire Chief Ted Martin said. “We want to continue to provide the best service possible, but we also have to be fiscally responsible.”
The current plan lines out a new station, plus staff and equipment, for one station in 2014 and another in 2015.
Martin said they’ve been planning for a few years to add a station at Missouri 165 and Quebec Road, near Fall Creek Resort on the south side of town, and another adjacent to the Branson RecPlex on the north side of town.
“When the economy took a turn that presented a challenge to fund those kind of capital improvements,” he said.
Martin said it takes a minimum of nine firefighters to staff a station, with a goal of 12. That allows three to four firefighters to cover each shift.
Recent surveys commissioned by the city have shown residents are pleased with fire service, but staying ahead of the curve in regard to staff and technology is important to continuing that service, Martin said.
With expectations to replace an existing engine in coming years, the department has looked at ways to best make use of funds.
“We’re looking at proposals to streamline operations and improve technology,” he said.
“For our next engine, we’re looking at a compressed air foam system, which has benefits in terms of man power, in terms of reduction of weight, and it’s green technology.
“We’re constantly looking at efficiency and what’s on the market,” he said.
Martin said the firefighters on his staff are to be commended for the job they’ve done in providing service during lean economic times.
“For the fire department, and public safety in general, — I would brag on the police department also — it’s been a great marketing tool for the city,” he said. “People feel safe here.”
A little more than $1 million is slated for improvements to the fire department in 2013, with the majority going toward updated equipment for Fire Station No. 3.
The design and construction for Station No. 4 is tentatively set for 2014, with Station No. 5 for 2015.
An engine replacement is scheduled for 2016 and a ladder truck replacement for 2017.