People don't always smile when they see the tax collector, police, or city officials. But everyone is glad when the fire department arrives.
City officials, Mt. Peak homeowners and community leaders smiled as the ground was broken on Midlothian Fire Department Station No. 3 last week. The new fire station will be built on property just north of Mt. Peak Elementary School on Tower Road, just off FM 663.
"We have been planning this fire station for a number of years and we are glad construction is underway," said Midlothian Fire Chief David Schrodt. "This fire station will be a major part of this community and being out here, it will save lives."
Fire Station No. 3 was one of two fire stations approved by voters in the February 2003 bond referendum. Fire Station No. 2, was built on FM 1387 and opened in April 2006. The plan was to cut the response times in east and south of Midlothian.
"What we had was a seven minute response time from our downtown station to residents in Mt. Peak," said Schrodt. "Four minutes for a severe heart attack victim usually results in brain damage. Seven minutes when your house is on fire is also very serious."
The new fire station has the potential to cut fire insurance costs by up to $200 a year for homes within five miles of the station.
But there were some who protested at the groundbreaking. Members of Rural Citizens Against Annexation (RCAA) held up protest signs at the groundbreaking. Place 3 Councilman Ken Chamber, while attending the event, did not take part in the formal groundbreaking ceremony.
Schrodt thanked Bud Foreman, the developer of the Rosebud community, for donating the bulk of the land for the fire station.
The construction of Fire Station No. 3 actually began on Jan. 7 and most of the dirt work and foundation preparation has been completed.
The construction will take approximately six to seven months to complete. The city is in the process of hiring firefighters to staff the station.
The station is being built by Hill & Wilkinson for a guaranteed price of $1.961 million. The cost will only go up if the City Council approves change orders to the project.
The two-and-a-half bay station will be built with a floorplan similar to Fire Station No. 2. Fire Station No. 3 will have a slightly larger dormitory area for firefighters.
Midlothian voters overwhelmingly approved two bond proposals in February 2003 totaling $17.5 million to improve city streets and ultimately build two new fire stations. The fire safety proposal saw 513 votes cast with 367 voting for a $3.08 million bond issue that built fire stations east and south of town over five years. Voters cast 146 ballots against this bond issue.
The city had hoped the fire stations would cost about $1.05 million each.
Schrodt explained the city is putting on Hardie board siding rather than all brick at a savings of $130,000.