Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Indian Springs Fire Station Update, Woodlands Texas

For several years now, we have been watching a vision unfold to build a new fire station in Indian Springs. It is needed now, more than ever, for a quick response. As it is, we generally get an 8-minute response from the one on Gosling at Alden Bridge Shopping Center and the one off Bay Branch. Depending where you are located in Indian Springs, you generally are served by one of these two stations. A five-minute average is the norm for The Woodlands as a whole, but less is even more desirable. With the increasing traffic on Woodlands Parkway and potential congestion at that light, along with traffic backed up on Gosling during evening rush hour headed south to the parkway or onward to the Village of Creekside Park, there is a threat of additional time required to arrive at a destination in east Indian springs. I would not like to see a house in Indian Springs burn to the ground due to the inability to respond quickly. Even seconds make a difference in fire control.

Indian Springs Village, Woodlands Fire Station #8 has been under study for the past year or so, to see what can best be done for our residents. Options for location are very few. We are built out with very few lots remaining. There is one land parcel, east of the George Mitchell Preserve Trail Head on Flintridge, which could accommodate a new fire station. Chief Benson put it this way (summarized) - "This has passed a feasibility study by a Civil Engineer and an assessment by a consultant on wetland components and related impact of constructing a station on the proposed site. The station would be built on 1.5 to 2.0 acres of land, preferably 2.0 acres near Flintridge, but there is also some higher ground further back from the road that could be used if a road was built to get there." This land is currently part of the George Mitchell Preserve and would need to go through legal processes to free it. However, as Joel Deretchin states, "The only possible exception to maintaining all the land as the preserve would be to carve out a small site for a fire station for safety reasons, but that has not been decided."

Currently an architect is drawing up a plot layout plan. No land-use permits will be required since there will be no wetlands involved with construction on this site. Once the station has been plotted, a proposal will be developed and the development company will be approached for parcel acquisition. Then if all goes well with deeding, it goes into the design phase.

Residents are sensitive to two basic issues. How loud will it be for those who live in the nearby area? .. and .. What will be the impact to the peaceful forest preserve adjacent to the fire station? ... Noise is almost exclusively confined to the exit of a truck or EMS vehicle in the event of an emergency. The sirens must conform to national standards. The use of the sirens are confined to exiting the station and traveling on the street. They are not used while loading the truck and are turned on only as the truck enters the street. The sirens must be heard by a driver in a car with loud music and windows up. One response event lasts about 30 seconds in the vicinity of a station, from the noise perspective. On return, the truck does not use a siren. In and about the station itself, noise is the same as a residence.

To understand the frequency of siren alerts, the Chief has kindly provided us with historical response statistics. These are the number of responses to the Indian Springs area, the area which this station will primarily cover.
2006: 135
2007: 129
2008: 119
We see by these numbers that residents can expect to experience only 2 to 3 incidents a week.

EMS responds to priority 1 and 2 emergencies and not priority 3. Not all the sirens one hears in the area are from the fire department. In fact, the pitch of the sirens can be distinguished. The Sheriff's sirens are different from the medical sirens which are different from the Fire Department.

The Creekside Park Fire Station #7 construction has been prioritized ahead of Indian Springs. Hopefully, we will have our own station next year.

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