The city’s newest fire station combines two posts into one and, according to Mayor Sandy Stimpson said, will help the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department achieve something only a small percentage of fire departments in the United States have done.
Since beginning the search for a new fire chief last year, the city has been on a quest to achieve the highest rating available for the department from the Insurance Service Office, an ISO 1 designation. Currently, the department has an ISO 3 rating.
An ISO designation basically helps describe how well-equipped a department is to deal with certain situations and avoid risk. An ISO 1 designation is hard to achieve, however. Only 400 to 500 of America’s 4,400 fire stations have earned the designation, Public Safety Director James Barber said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Montgomery’s fire department has the only ISO 1 designation in the state under Chief Milford Jordan, who Stimpson said was an integral part of selecting Mobile Fire Chief Mark Sealy.
It was Jordan who first encouraged Mobile officials to aim for the highest ISO designation, he added.
“We realized that we too can do this,” Stimpson said. “He instilled that seed of, “you guys can do this too.’”
For Stimpson, the improvement in ISO designation means better, more professional services for citizens — starting with the new Crichton Fire Station.
The 12,137-square-foot facility will house a ladder truck, a hazardous materials team and an all hazards response team, all located near Interstate 65 for better citywide access, Sealy said.
“It’s another step toward ISO,” he said. “It’s another step … toward being the best fire department in the country.”
The ladder truck and its proximity to the Boykin Tower housing complex, will specifically move the department closer to ISO 1, Stimpson said. The ladder truck will help with so-called high-rise rescues, Sealy said.
Barber said he’s confident the department will reach ISO 1 because “failure is not an option.”
Councilman Fred Richardson, who represents Crichton, told the crowd at the ribbon cutting that the placement of the new “mother of all fire stations” has already helped with development of the area. He mentioned Popeye’s, Dollar Tree, Dunkin Donuts and other nearby businesses.
“They know they’re safe,” he said. “They’re not coming into an area where they know they’re not safe. We’re not yet the safest city in the country, but we’re safer then we were. I can tell you that.”
The new station replaces both the Gus Riehm Fire Station and the Ashland Place Fire Station. Stimpson said he doesn’t expect Ashland Place residents to notice a change in service.
“This area has so much more capacity here,” he said.