Million-dollar Murfreesboro fire station still not operational - WSMV Channel 4

Million-dollar fire station still not operational in Murfreesboro

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

It was built six years ago to help protect residents in case of fire or other emergencies, but a brand new fire station off Veterans Parkway in Murfreesboro still sits empty.

The facility cost taxpayers about $1 million, but city leaders said the recession and a lack of funding to staff the place are a couple of the reasons why it's not operational.

Anthony Fontaine has lived in the Weston Park subdivision for nearly three years and had peace of mind knowing a fire hall was so close.

"I always just assumed they had a fire department staff in there, and if something happened at one of these houses, they would be there to put out the fire," Fontaine said.

Now, he's worried it's not in use.

"It behooves me why the city would build something like that and not staff it and service the community here," he said.

City manager Rob Lyons said when Fire and Rescue Station 10 was built in 2008, the planning commission had approved thousands of residential lots to be built upon.

"So in anticipation of that growth, during that boom time, we were forward thinking and built that fire station," Lyons said. "However, between the time we approved the fire station and the time it was ready to be occupied, the recession hit."

Still, neighbors wonder why the city built it in the first place and spent nearly $1 million of taxpayers' money.

"The construction cost is certainly one component of this, but the recurring costs of salaries and benefits is where the real dollars are," Lyons said.

It would cost $750,000 a year to staff 15 full-time people, according to Lyons, money the city can't justify spending right now.

Station 9 on Cason Lane is less than five miles away, so city leaders say residents need not to worry about response time.

"The station on Cason Lane being nearby, we still can get there quickly," Lyons said.

Lyons said a study was conducted statewide, and Murfreesboro firefighters had a response time of four minutes or less, ranking second in the state.

While the building is not currently being used to respond to fires and other emergencies, it is being used for training, according to fire department spokesperson Ashley McDonald.

"This includes, but is not limited to, first responder class, CPR/documentation, hazardous materials training, relief driver pump practical, special operations training and incident command," she said.

On Thursday, there was plenty of activity at Station 10 as firemen were outfitting a new rescue truck.

In addition, promotional testing and interviews for fire department personnel are conducted at the station, according to McDonald.

"The award-winning Honor Guard competition team utilizes the station for practice," McDonald said.

City leaders are hoping that, with an upswing in the housing market and new construction of homes, apartments and a new elementary school, the fire station can be fully staffed and operational in the very new future. But it won't happen this year.

Some home owners are also concerned about their homeowner's insurance, since the station is not operational.

An agent with Nationwide Insurance says as long as there is a fire station within five miles and a fire hydrant within 1,000 feet, residents' insurance policies will not be affected.

The Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department currently has an Insurance Service Office rating of two on a scale of 10, with only 40 cities in the country have the top ISO ratings of one.

The ratings are used to help determine insurance rates.

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