During a fire or medical emergency, every second counts. The speed and effectiveness of the fire department and EMS crew’s response can save property, and lives.


During a fire or medical emergency, every second counts. The speed and effectiveness of the fire department and EMS crew’s response can save property, and lives.
The Burrton Consolidated Fire District is looking at how building a new fire/EMS station and adding three satellite stations could increase the effectiveness of the service it provides to the community.
“A building project like this is needed to move us into the future,” said Russell Walter, deputy chief EMS. “... We’ve got to do something.”
The current EMS and fire facilities may have been adequate at one time but now are outdated and overcrowded, he said.
The goal of the project is to create a coordinated, centralized location for emergency services, increase areas for storage and upgrade to modern technology, Walter said.
The main station would be built in Burrton, with easy access to U.S. Highway 50.
On the first floor will be an office, a climate-controlled area for ambulance storage, storm shelter, kitchen, workshop and decontamination areas, and training and storage rooms. The building will have ADA-accessible bathrooms and showers in case the station would ever need to be used as a community shelter during a disaster. The second floor would have space for six apartment-style rooms, providing better housing options for volunteers.
Having satellite stations in other areas of the district would make it easier to access rural areas during emergencies and also disperse assets so that if one station were to be destroyed in a flood, tornado or other disaster, some of the other stations would still have equipment, Walter said.
Having more stations could lower ISO ratings, the ratings insurance agencies use to determine fire insurance premiums (the lower the rating, the better fire protection a community has). However, every insurance company uses ISO ratings differently, and everyone’s insurance rates might not necessarily go down, Walter said. However, the stations will increase safety by decreasing response times.
“The closer the station to you, the better response time,” Walter said.
The project would cost between $1.2 millin and $1.7 million. The district has looked at different means for financing the project, including grants, federal programs and bonding.
The district believes it could pay for the project through a temporary mill levy increase from the current 2.7 mills to 5.8 mills.
Cliff Kirk, a Burrton resident, said he thinks it is time for the community to move forward with the project. The Burrton Fire/EMS Department is all volunteers, and he said the community should repay them for their service by providing them better resources to work with.
“Knowing what they do, what they go through ... now it’s really time for the community to get behind them and do something for them,” he said.
Although nobody likes their taxes going up, he said this project is worth it.
“If you want something, you’ve got to pay for it,” he said.