The City of Sulphur Springs is hiring an expert to help determine how best to maximize fire department resources while still maintaining the city’s ISO rating. Essentially, Mike Pietsch of P.E. Consulting Services in Garland is being tasked with evaluating and recommending where best to locate existing and future required fire stations based on Sulphur Springs’ present city limits.
While city staff feel they’ve answered some of the questions involved in that determination, an expert is needed to be sure all important factors have been considered, Maxwell noted.
“We are looking at a good portion of the Thermo site to be an industrial park … so that brings up the question how we are going to provide fire services to that industrial area and as well as the rest of the city of Sulphur Springs and still maintain our ISO that’s 2 rated,” explained Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell said.
Currently, Sulphur Springs Fire Department has two stations: Station 1 or Central Fire Station, located at 627 Church St. facing Bonner Street; and Station 2, located at 1100 Gilmer, across street from CVS on the other side of the traffic lights at the Gilmer, Bill Bradford Road and Lynda Drive, and the Tennessee Street and Gilmer Broadway Street split.
“What we don’t want to do right away is build a third station. We’d like to relocate a station and then, the next phase on that would be to build a third station as Thermo develops. We don’t know if that’s possible, and if possible, how that happens,” the city manager said.
After doing some research, Pietsch was identified as the “premiere guy” in his field. The consultant’s services and expertise continued to be recommended by officials in other agencies across the region who have already conducted similar evaluations for their service area.
Sulphur Springs Fire Chief David James said those in the area of Terrell and Rockwall have utilized his services. Thus far, of the 15 departments he knows of that have used the Pietsch, James said he’s talked to officials at 10 who have all been “very pleased with him.” The consultant’s background make him uniquely qualified to know the ins and outs of ISO and these issues; Pietsch retired after 30 years with ISO, then started PE Consulting Services 12-15 years ago.
The object will be for Pietsch to evaluate the city, for current and future fire service needs, and make a recommendation on the best location for the current fire services, with a goal of maintanining the city’s current ISO rating of 2, which can help residents and businesses hundred, potentially thousands in insurance costs annually, if at all possible.
One thing Sulphur Springs Place 1 City Councilman Jay Julian said would be interested in knowing whether moving one or both of the city’s fire stations would cost the city one or more ISO rating point, and how much extra that would likely cost property owners and renters in insurance costs.
Maxwell indicated Pietsch likely will be able to answer that question or at least give a good estimate, as well as other questions city officials might have, including whether a city can have a split rating, and if that’s possible, how that would work. The city manager expressed confidence in Pietsch’s abilty to answer these types of questions and point out other factors that city officials may not have considered.