Cibolo expects to open bids Aug. 26 for its third fire station, an 8,000 square-foot building to be built on Wiedner Road at FM 1103.
Fire Chief Miguel Troncoso briefed Cibolo City Council during its July 28 meeting on the building, staffing, and equipment needs for a station estimated to be fully functional by October 2021.
Troncoso reviewed a timeline with council, beginning with bid advertisement through Thursday, a pre-bid meeting scheduled for Aug. 18, and the bid opening set for Aug. 26. Council would award the bid Sept. 22 with construction to start in late October 2020.
Funds from a $4 million general obligation bond approved by voters in 2014 are available to cover the construction cost. The available $2.7 million would include $550,000 for architectural fees and furniture and fixtures, leaving just over $2 million for construction of the station.
“I’m glad to see we’re getting moving on this. I think it’s important for the city that we have it,” said District 2 Councilman Steve Quinn. “We need to start moving forward on this.”
Council questioned whether the city’s planned $2 million construction price tag is adequate for the project.
“I’m scared that $2 million isn’t going to be enough to build an 8,000 square-foot building,” Quinn told administration.
“This is technically a substation. This is going to be smaller than station no. 2 on Cibolo Valley Drive,” City Manager Robert Herrera responded. “Our architects, the numbers they are coming back with are at $1.9 (million), so that’s right at $2 million. Of course, we won’t know until we go out for the bids.”
Troncoso said the fire station “is no Taj Mahal” in its substation design.
“The process of designing with our architects was to make it a functional fire station,” Troncoso said. “There’s no community room, there’s no training room associated with it. It’s sleeping quarters, offices, a day room, kitchen, trucks to park there, and to respond to calls.”
“I think we’re in a good time to build, because of COVID, and people want to build,” Quinn said. “It just concerns me, at $2 million.”
District 6 Councilman Tim Woliver recalled prior comments made about “a spartan design, just the basics for basic functions” that would be used as a common design, “to keep costs down on a similar building.” That would address the city’s planned fourth fire station, to be constructed along Interstate 10 a few years from now.
A recent fire on the roof of the AW Texas transmission plant on I-10 resulted in a 12-minute response time from Cibolo fire stations 1 and 2 to the site at Bolton Road and I-10. Troncoso said average response times in the city’s northern zones range from 4 to 5 minutes.
The fire chief said a request for four firefighters had been submitted for 2020-2021 budget and approved by council, in order to secure minimum staffing needed for station 3.
The city applied for a SAFER grant — Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response — to cover hiring 13 firefighters. If awarded, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would pay 75 percent of the personnel costs in years one and two. Year three would see the city cover 65 percent of the total before assuming the entire cost of all 13 positions by year four.
“That would put four firefighters at each station so we’d be fully staffed,” he added.
To open a fire station at minimum staffing requires 12 full-time firefighters, to cover four men on three shifts. Troncoso told council that the annual recurring cost to pay those salaries and benefits is about $800,000.
2018 general obligation bonds covered the purchase of an $882,250 77-foot ladder truck that was delivered to the city. He said the city applied for a grant to purchase a brush truck that would see the city pay 15 percent of the estimated $175,000 cost.
Troncoso reminded council that both grants — for 13 firefighters, and for the brush truck — “are still out there, nothing’s been decided at this point.”
Cibolo was served by an all-volunteer unit from 1956 to 2008, when the Cibolo Fire Department was established out of its station at 204 W. Loop 539. The department entered into a “closest unit dispatch” agreement with Schertz in April 2017. The city already approved the purchase of land at Bolton and Stolte roads for future station no. 4.