Merrill leaders approve funds for fire station evaluation
MERRILL (WAOW)--Merrill Common Council members approved a 2012 budget that includes $17,000 dollars for a study to be conducted on the city's main fire house.
Mayor Bill Bialecki has proposed selling fire station two and consolidating it with the main station on East First Street to save money. Currently, three fire fighters are housed at station two and ambulance service is provided from that location. But Assistant Fire Chief Steve Hintze said changes need to be made before consolidating the fire department. He said the station on East First Street needs to be expanded to house another ambulance and more firefighters. The budgeted study will show how much those upgrades would cost.
But Hintze said the plan isn't perfect, and shutting down station two would affect service. "If we go to one station, our response time to the sixth ward and the West side of the city of Merrill could be delayed by two to three minutes just because we'd have to drive farther. That's just the way it is."
But Bialecki argued consolidating the stations could actually save time. "Right now, with only three being on the other side of town in order to attack a fire they have to wait for two or three more personnel at least to come and attack with them."
Bialecki said he wants to have the study completed as soon as possible. Public hearings will be held before any final decision is made.