Town officials want to build at least two new fire stations in the coming years to improve response times and maintain one of the highest rated fire departments in the state.
One fire station would be in the Walnut Street and U.S. 1 area. The other would be near 2531 O’Kelly Chapel Road in western Cary.
The Cary Fire Department, which was established in 1922, has nine fire stations – five of which opened in the last 20 years in response to increased development and population growth.
“My rule of thumb is about once every five years, because of growth, we’ve had to construct and staff a fire station,” Cary Fire Chief Allan Cain said.
The Cary Fire Department strives to have the first truck arrive on the scene of an emergency about seven minutes after 911 is dialed at least 90 percent of the time, Cain said, including no more than five minutes of travel time 90 percent of the time.
“We have places within the town limits where it’s physically impossible for us to travel to that location within that limit,” Cain said. “That lends to where we need another fire station.”
The town has about $834,000 remaining in fire bond proceeds, but that isn’t enough to cover the construction of either facility.
The Walnut Street station is estimated to cost $7.9 million, including design and construction, and the O’Kelly Chapel Road station is estimated to cost $8.5 million.
Karl Knapp, the town’s budget director, said the town manager will present a recommendation for funding the construction of these fire stations as part of the budget and capital plan that is submitted in May to the Town Council.
The town already has acquired the land for the two planned fire stations for a combined $2.3 million. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the process besides funding.
“Finding the property and having willing property owners is always a challenge,” said Lori Cove, the town’s director of transportation and facilities.
This new location helps firefighters respond more quickly to emergencies north of downtown, but there are still some areas in the southern part of the service area, particularly south of U.S. 1 on Walnut Street, where the department is not meeting its response rate goal, Cain said.
The planned Walnut Street station would help the department meet current and future service demands, particularly with projected redevelopment in the Crossroads area. Once the station is constructed, the SE Maynard Road location will no longer be used as a fire station, Cain said.
“Once the plan fully materializes, the gaps down Walnut Street will be covered by the future station,” Cain said in December.
Cary resident Joyce Sciusco said she is looking forward to the northwestern Cary station on O’Kelly Chapel Road, which would be about a mile from her home in the Amberly community.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I think that the neighborhood would benefit from having a fire department closer, especially with the speed of development and so many houses.”
While these fire stations will take years to come to fruition, the town and the Cary Fire Department staff already have their eyes set on other locations that will need a station.
“We’re always keeping our eyes open for locations in southwestern Cary, which is the next area that the fire department has identified as a need,” Cove said.
The Middle Creek area also needs a station, Cain said.
In the meantime, the town is using a service contract with the Fairview Fire Department to assist in responding to the Middle Creek area, as well as one with the Town of Morrisville for help with areas of town near the airport.
“I think it shows that they’re forward thinking and looking at where the growth is and they’re responding appropriately,” Sciusco said of the town’s plans.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon