The largest city in Galveston County and one of the fastest growing cities in the nation relies on a volunteer fire department that is emerging as a growing professional service.
League City council members agreed Tuesday to pay $305,000 to Houston-based Natex Corporation Architects for the engineering and design of a new fire station, the city’s sixth.
Having a sixth fire station improves the city’s insurance rating scores and will improve response times, Chief Gary Warren said.
And another fire station would have been useful during Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in late August when the city fielded thousands of calls for help. Fire Station No. 5, 2898 Bay Creek Drive, sustained some flood damage during Harvey, Assistant City Manager Bo Bass said.
Fire Station No. 6 will have three bays and will support 24-hour operations and provide living quarters for six personnel — four firefighters and two paramedics. It will cost about $5 million to build, according to the city’s capital improvement plan.
The new fire station will be built on a 1.68-acre site near the 7500 block of South Shore Boulevard, city staff said.
‘UNUSUAL, AWESOME JOB’
League City has a population of more than 102,000 and about 120 volunteer firefighters.
In April, Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy presented League City officials with the Insurance Services Office highest rating of 1. The city’s previous rating was 3.
It’s unusual for a volunteer fire department to get the highest rating, Connealy said.
“The volunteers are doing such an awesome job protecting a very large community,” Connealy said. “This is a city that exemplifies the process of working together.”
The 1 rating, which went into effect Sept. 1, could reduce homeowner insurance premiums by 9 percent, city officials said.
Insurance companies look at this data when deciding what to charge clients depending on where they live, among other factors.
For example, having most residents living within 5 miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant can improve a city’s fire rating.
The fire department took other measures to improve its ISO score, such as adopting the most recent fire codes.
The ISO rating also took the city’s water supply and distribution into consideration. Other factors were the city’s agreement with Webster for mutual aid, dispatching capabilities, fire station distribution, record keeping, hydrant maintenance and firefighter response to structure fires.
The high rating had a caveat. Property owners in the far southwest part of the city may not get the same insurance cost savings, but that could change as the city makes improvements, city officials said.
The new fire station, however, will be on the east side of the city.
By adding a temporary fire station at the East End Water Tower, the city raised its score with the Insurance Service Office, or ISO, an organization that provides statistical information on fire risk. A high rating can result in lower insurance rates for homeowners and commercial businesses. The new permanent fire station when completed will take over for the water tower.
Natex Corporation Architects also will oversee bidding, negotiation and construction administration for the project, city staff said.
Council approved in July a short list of consultants to provide professional services to the city.
The Fire Station No. 6 working committee reviewed the qualifications of the companies and chose Natex Corporation Architects based on the company’s past projects, its proximity to League City and references from past clients, city staff said.
The city’s capital improvement budget allots $500,000 for the design of the fire station and $5.175 million for its construction.