Non-funded fire station may open after 3 years

CALERA &8212; A fire station that has stood empty since 2004 may soon be up and running.

Calera&8217;s third station, which the city previously couldn&8217;t afford to staff, is likely to be funded in the city&8217;s next budget.

Calera&8217;s rapid growth in recent years and the high cost of manning a fire station are what caused the third station to be built but remain closed for so long, said Fire Chief Tommy Moon.

&8220;On average, it costs you $1 million to staff each station if you figure in salary, trucks and everything that goes with keeping that station up,&8221; Moon said. &8220;The money just wasn&8217;t there to do it this year.&8221;

But Calera plans to make staffing the new station a priority for next year&8217;s budget, hoping to help keep residents safe and happy.

Moon said the third station will cut down on response time and enhance the safety of firefighters by having more people on the scene.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO), which grades fire departments and is linked to insurance premiums for residents, was planning an inspection of Calera&8217;s fire departments, and Moon knew that the recent growth and limited number of stations would affect their rating.

&8220;Instead of having a Class 4 (with the additional station), we could have had a Class 5 or 6,&8221; Moon said of the potential ISO ratings.

ISO ratings determine the insurance premiums for houses within the city based, in part, on the distance from the fire station to each home. But Calera&8217;s growth left residents in the Shelby Springs area out of the allowable radius.

&8220;These ratings save you money,&8221; Moon said. &8220;We&8217;re a Class 4. They gave us credit for having it (the third station) open.&8221;

Moon said that they are in the final step of the opening process now.

&8220;You can&8217;t do all that you want to do at once, no matter how bad you want it,&8221; he said