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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

July 8, 2002
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Mike Spadt, Fire Chief, 441-7333

Mayor Discusses Bond Issue for Fire Department

Mayor Don Wesely and Lincoln Fire Chief Mike Spadt today said a proposed $8 million bond for the Fire Department will help the community maintain and improve fire protection as the City grows. The Mayor is requesting City Council approval to present the bond issue to fund equipment, repairs and the construction of two new fire stations to voters in the next fiscal year.

"As the community has grown in population and in area, the City has historically added fire stations in new areas," said Mayor Wesely. "The Fire Department has identified the need for new fire stations in the northern and southern parts of our city since the mid-1980s, and it is now time to move forward and add stations in these areas. The bond issue will also cover improvements and equipment in all parts of the City to meet our fire protection needs across our community."

The Fire Department currently has 14 stations located strategically throughout the community. The two new stations have been identified in the Capital Improvement Program since 1983. Chief Spadt said the Fire Department monitors its performance using response times, fire fatalities, fire damage and citizen feedback.

"Our goal is to minimize the loss of lives and property," said Chief Spadt. "The longer a fire burns, the more damage it will cause, so greater travel distances from a fire station to a citizen in need means that a person whose home is on fire will suffer a greater loss. Time is also critical when a citizen needs medical assistance. During a heart attack, for instance, a person can suffer irreversible brain damage after just four to six minutes."

The two new fire stations with apparatus and equipment would cost about $3.3 million. The Fire Department is exploring sites in north and south Lincoln. The bond issue would also fund:

  • $1 million for two aerial pumpers;
  • water tankers to transport water to fires in areas where no fire hydrants are available;
  • $1 million in improvements to existing stations at 2nd and "N" streets, 3640 Touzalin and 5051 South 48th Street;
  • improvements at the Fire Department's education, training and fleet services facility in southwest Lincoln;
  • relocating Station 11 in northwest Lincoln to better serve the area;
  • technology to allow the 911 Center to track all emergency vehicles; and
  • heavy rescue equipment, breathing equipment and radios.
City Council approval is required to place a bond issue on the ballot. The date for the bond issue vote will be set at that time. Debt service on the bond issue would add about 2.5 percent to the City property tax bill. Once approved by voters, the two new fire stations would be operational in about two years. About 30 new firefighters would be hired to begin operations at the two new stations. Another 25 firefighters would be hired over a five-year period as the two new stations increase their operations.

The Fire Department's proposed general fund budget for fiscal year 2002-2003 is $16.4 million. That equates to a cost of 20 cents per day for each City resident. When fully operational, the new stations and positions would add about $3 million to the Fire Department's budget.

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