The Pueblo Fire Department will have to look at new ways to get funding for projects it needs completed after City Council recently decided to narrow its focus for a proposed ballot question that would ask voters for a 1/5-cent sales tax strictly for hiring 24 more police officers.
Originally, council discussed asking for a bigger tax that also would have paid for remodeling city fire stations and buying two new pumper trucks.
There are eight city stations that have been identified by the fire department as needing upgrades.
“They (council) have the entire city to look out after and I respect their decision,” Chief Shawn Shelton said. “We will forge ahead and we will figure this out.”
Shelton said the majority of the city’s stations are getting old quickly.
“Our main station at West Seventh and North Greenwood streets was built in the ’70s,” Shelton said. “They are well-used. They’ve been maintained and taken care of, but over time needs change. When those stations were built, they weren’t really built in mind of having female firefighters. We didn’t have any back then.”
Shelton said in addition to gender separation and other special needs, there are some safety features at the stations that need to be addressed as well and that, Shelton said, is his top priority.
“It doesn’t mean we have to necessarily tear them all down and start all over,” Shelton said. “We would like to be able to take a look at the different stations and have some different ideas of what we can do within the same shell to make them safer and make them appropriate for male and female and all of those things.”
Though the total cost has not officially been determined, Shelton said that excluding the replacement of a station the cost of upgrades would exceed about $250,000 per station.
Replacement would range in price from $2 million for a single engine company to several million dollars for a larger station such as Station 1 at 425 W. Seventh St.
Shelton said his plan now will be to craft a specific master plan with hard numbers about what needs done to go to council with.
“That’s really where I’m going to focus next is on creating that master plan hopefully in the next six to eight months or so,” Shelton said. “The needs we have aren’t going away. We just have to take a step back and look at a different way of trying to come up with money to make those happen.”
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