The Eastern Fire/EMS Substation Committee has completed their work and issued their findings and recommendations. This committee was formed in August 2022 to evaluate the need for a staffed Fire/EMS substation in the eastern area of the city, and if so, to make high-level recommendations on location, services, and equipment at the substation. Councilor Emhiser, the Chair of the Committee, presented the group’s findings at the April 18, 2023 City Council meeting.
2021 call response times for Eastern Biddeford showed that there is a significant number of calls with a greater than 6 minute response time. Six minute response times are critical for positive outcomes in both fire and medical emergencies. Based on this data, the Committee identified “a strong need for a substation to improve response times to Eastern Biddeford”. The recommended location identified by the Committee for the substation would cover about 90-95% of the community with a 6-minute response time.
The committee recommended one Engine with 1,800 gallon capacity and one ambulance be located at the substation. Given the cost benefit, it was agreed that initially using existing engine Squad 28 at the station would be an effective use of equipment.
Initial staffing is recommended by the Committee to be two per shift, one of which is a paramedic. This would require the addition of four new positions, which could be added in stages over the coming budget cycles. In the interim, per-diem staff could be used. Ultimately, the ideal staffing recommendation would be a “company” with an Officer and two Privates per shift.
Additional City Services
The Committee determined that the cost benefit of providing additional City services out of the building does not warrant devoting space to these activities.
Size and Scope
The Committee determined that the size of the station should meet the needs projected for the next 10 years. Potential designs for three sizes of stations were evaluated. For a 6,000 to 7,500 square foot building, the cost would be between $3 and $4 million.
Final Recommendation and Request for Council
The Committee requests that City Council issues an RFP for $150,000 from previously appropriated funds for initial architectural and engineering design for a Substation. This will allow a firm basis for finalizing the appropriate size and shape and quantifying detailed costs for potential next steps. It will also provide details for potential grant applications.