The fire department is revealing more details of its plan to respond faster to emergencies — including where to build two new fire stations and how to pay for them.
The board of directors for the South County Fire Authority, which encompasses both Tracy Fire Department and the Tracy Rural Fire Protection District, met Tuesday and heard from Chief Randall Bradley, who leads all the departments.
Bradley offered the directors a detailed look at the results of an independent report SCFA had paid for to analyze fire service in the city and county — a report that was revealed at the June 20 meeting of the City Council.
“We’ve got a couple of performance measures right now. That is to arrive on scene within 6.5 minutes 90 percent of the time in the city. Within 10 minutes 90 percent of the time in the rural area,” Bradley said. “Four urban area fire stations are too few and too far between to meet their 4-minute response time goals. We knew that. That was one of the reasons we commissioned the study.”
Bradley said those stations in town are responding to fires that are outside city limits but in neighborhoods considered urban — such as Elissagaray Ranch on the east side — which is driving up their times.
Bradley told directors he wanted to move Station 97 about a mile east from the corner of Tracy Boulevard and Central Avenue to a spot on Valpico Road between Tracy and MacArthur Drive.
“We have identified probably 75 percent of the funding for the 97 move. So we’re looking at land right now,” Bradley said. “We have a spot and we’re trying to contact the landowner right now to try and find out how much and if they are willing to sell.”
The chief also proposed establishing a new station on Valpico between Corral Hollow and Lammers roads, across the street from the new cemetery. He tentatively called it Station 99.
“We found that sweet spot where the fire station to the west could get into Redbridge within the 4-minute response time but we also could get into Edgewood halfway in that 4-minute response time,” he said, referring to the location.
Bradley also said that other new stations — to the south in the Tracy Hills planned community along Interstate 580 at Corral Hollow and to the north near West Valley Mall — will be built as houses are developed.
“In today’s dollars, it’s about $1.9 million to staff a fire station 24/7 with three people,” he told the directors. “It’s easy for the relocated ones because we already have staff. We just move the staff to the new ones. We have to try to time those new fire stations with at least some increased revenue from residential and commercial growth to offset the costs, from the rural district especially, from property taxes.”
Director John Muniz asked about the timeline for stations 97 and 99.
“We’re working on it now and we’re hoping that within the next two, three years you’ll see those fire stations built,” Bradley replied.
Director Tim Smith, who is an elected member of the Tracy Rural Fire Protection District board of directors, said the city needed to work closely with the rural board.
“Probably the most important thing here, it’s critical that the city work closely with Tracy Rural because several of these stations are in our jurisdiction. Several of these stations are ours,” he said, suggesting that the city had not consulted the rural board about past changes. “Because we’re totally on different pages. You’re on one page, we’re on a different page and we certainly don’t want to get into any kind of legal issue. So the only way to work through it is to get together and work through it.”
SCFA chairman Robert Rickman, also Tracy’s mayor, said improving fire response is vital.
“As we expand, we have to make sure our public safety, be it police or fire, is kept up to the standards that we have created. Not just nationally but our local standards,” he said.