Henderson Fire Study Recommends Building Third Station

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In a follow-up on the Henderson City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting held Wednesday afternoon, City Manager Frank Frazier and Henderson Fire Chief Steve Cordell provided WIZS News with more details on the City’s recently completed fire study.

Henderson is currently served by two fire stations located approximately one mile apart: Station #1 at 211 Dabney Drive and the over 100-year-old historic Station #2 at 205 N. Garnett Street in downtown Henderson.

“After a fair amount of annexations over the last few years, we felt like it was time to review our station distribution and coverage areas,” Frazier said. “Years ago, we looked at a third station, but we felt like a study was needed to see what the data shows.”

The study, conducted by Management Solutions for Emergency Services based out of Greenville, SC, began in August 2019 with the pulling of station files dating back to 2010 – almost a decade’s worth of data.

According to Cordell, the study indicated that a third fire station was recommended for city coverage, with a suggested location around the Dabney Drive, 158 Bypass area.

“According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), engines are supposed to be able to respond within a mile and a half; that’s what they look at when they do ISO ratings. It is two and a half miles for ladder truck companies,” said Cordell. “A new station in that vicinity would give us 92% for a mile and a half engine coverage in the city.”

The ISO (Insurance Services Office) sets ratings for fire departments on a scale of 1 to 10 based on a number of factors that impact response time and safety, Cordell explained. The lower the department’s ISO number, the less risky your house seems to insurance companies. This can equate to paying less for your homeowners insurance in the long-run.

The City’s current ISO rating is a 2, a feat that Frazier said is owed to the hard work and dedication of the fire department.

“Eventually, building another fire station could help us get to a 1; that’s a goal,” Frazier said.

Getting a third fire station built would be quite the process as Cordell estimated a $2 million price tag for the land and building, with an additional $600,000 annual operations cost for the study’s 12 recommend department staff and equipment.

Frazier said it is a large expense and the City would need to look at additional ways to fund the project, including any available USDA or FEMA assistance.

“It’s a lot of information to be absorbed and you’ve got to look at all the parameters,” said Frazier. “Everyone involved needs to review this study in-depth and decide how to proceed moving forward.”

With Frazier set to retire from the City at the end of January, he said this will be a major task moving forward for newly hired manager Edward Terrell Blackmon.

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