By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — As the Norman looks at renewing the Public Safety Sales Tax, one item budgeted for in the proposed capital expenditures is the relocation of Fire Station 5.
“It’s outdated, outgrown and not in the best location,” Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said.
The station, which is now on 168th Avenue Northeast and State Highway 9, was built only a mile from city limits in the late ’70s. Its construction was funded with a Community Development Block Grant and built with the Little Axe Community Center.
“At that time, it housed two people: a captain and a driver,” Bailey said. Now it houses a full crew of four firefighters.
The station also was used by Little Axe firefighter volunteers at the time.
Linda Price, city revitalization manager, said the station wasn’t originally intended to have living quarters for a whole crew. It was mainly for volunteer firefighters who went home after responding to calls.
“That’s why it’s so inadequate now,” Price said.
Originally, one person stayed at the station per shift, and eventually the volunteers were phased out of the building because of a lack of space, she said.
“It was very tiny,” Bailey said. “When I was a firefighter there, it was small.”
Bailey said the living quarters, which consisted of a bedroom with two beds, was probably about 250 square feet.
Over the years, the fire department has had to take over offices from the community center side and build a small bathroom there, he said.
“The fire department has certainly outgrown the station, years ago, and its location is not where we would build one if we were to have one out there right now,” Bailey said. “We would build it two or three miles closer to town.”
Firefighters still will respond within the four-to-five-minute time frame, which includes the area the station would be moved from, he said.
If the Public Safety Sales Tax is renewed by voters, the fire department would look at obtaining land from either the state, since Lake Thunderbird is close to the area, or purchasing property from a land owner, he said.
There has also been discussion about Little Axe firefighters taking over the facility if the station is relocated, Bailey said.
The cost of building a new Station 5 was projected to be about $3.5 million, which could fluctuate, depending on when it is built, he said.
“If it’s built five years from now, that wouldn’t be an accurate number,” Bailey said.
If Station 5 is built with the tax renewal, it would be similar to Station 8, which currently houses seven firefighters, he said.
The relocation would place the station in a slightly more populated area, which would result in a reduced insurance cost for Norman homeowners in the area.
“(The relocation) would support the citizens of Norman much better and the needs of the fire department,” Bailey said.
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