Executive Director of Public Safety Richard Landolt said Friday he has a plan to close and consolidate certain fire stations near midtown and downtown that aren’t heavily used or are in need of major repairs.
Landolt’s plan would see the closing of Ashland, Henry J. Reid, Central and Gus Rehm fire stations, in favor of a smaller station downtown near the intersection of Interstate 165 and Beauregard Street and a “state-of-the-art megastation” in the vicinity of where Rehm is currently located on Moffat Road.
Landolt said Central and Rehm are “dilapidated,” while Reid and Ashland aren’t heavily used. Ashland first opened in 1930, Rehm opened in 1955, Central opened in 1925 and Reid opened in 1961, according to the department’s website.
Landolt said the plan isn’t too far along and he would still need to look at its effect on response times.
“I’m having a study done on response times,” he said. “None of this is set in stone.”
The megastation could house needed medical equipment for paramedics, Landolt said. In addition, the new station could allow for on-site maintenance of the department’s vehicles, an operation that is currently handled by the city garage staff. Landolt said he might consider hiring mechanics especially for the department to work on the vehicles.
The city owns all the buildings that house the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department’s 21 fire stations and buildings. Landolt suggested the land where Rehm currently sits could be sold to a developer where a business could take it over, leading to an increase in revenue. He also mentioned the city may pursue a public-private partnership to develop the new “megastation,” which would theoretically be funded by a developer and leased back to the city.
Landolt pointed to the new Berger Station in Theodore, opened 2012, as an example of some of the possible amenities available in new stations. Landolt did not discuss what may become of vacated buildings at Ashland or Central, a prominent two-story brick building at the foot of Springhill Avenue downtown.
As far as a timeframe to implement the plan, Landolt said he’d like to get moving on it quickly and expects to have it in place in a year or two, or within the mayor’s first term. As of today, he said he had pitched the plan to several members of the Mobile City Council, who were receptive. However, he said further details would not be discussed until after the council approved the 2015 budget.
Landolt, a retired Navy officer, joined the Stimpson administration in July. In August, he sent a “mission statement” to the police and fire departments outlining his intention to use the city’s resources to get both departments “adequately manned, trained and equipped.”