Submitted by Chief Dan Casey
In short, the answer is yes. NMFPD wants to make sure that our residents feel confident that we are investing in a building that will last for decades and serve the needs of the community as effectively and efficiently as possible. The New Melle Fire Protection District has had many challenges along the way, with the current economy being number one on the list.
In November 2020, residents approved a $7-million bond issue to purchase necessary infrastructure items to keep up with the increased call volume and growth in the area.
The New Melle Fire Protection District purchased cardiac monitor/defibrillators, lifesaving cardiac drugs and supplies and received a Missouri State EMRA license to provide Advanced Life Support to all Fire District residents. This is a huge benefit to our community to provide this service to our citizens.
New firefighter protective gear and new battery-powered extrication tools were purchased to keep our firefighters safe and replace outdated lifesaving equipment. Two new fully equipped brush fire units were purchased and are awaiting delivery, and they have been delayed due to a lack of vehicle chassis availability. The units were ordered more than 13 months ago, but we hope to take delivery of one in the upcoming months.
The majority of the bond issue was to replace the current fire station located at 3705 Mill Street with a new station at the corner of Foristell Road, and Highway Z. This station will house firefighters on shift twenty-four hours a day to protect our community. The current station was initially built to house volunteers and vehicles only, and the District has outgrown that demand.
This has been a challenging process. When the Fire District began this development, we conservatively estimated, with professional guidance, that the project would cost around $325 per square foot. The hours spent researching other builds, developing, and designing the most suitable and practical building for our community are too numerous to count. Our members worked diligently to cultivate a project they would be proud to present to our citizens. When the project bid, we were aware of an unanticipated increase in building material cost and limited availability of some of the most common items. We also expected the price per square foot to increase, but we did not expect the price per square foot to raise over $100. Bids ranged from $1.6 to $2.5 million over our $5.5 million budget. We were stunned.
We went back to the design team and made several cuts in square footage, materials, and design simplification to build something within our budget. Many more hours and days were devoted to developing ideas that would allow for our goal of delivering a building that would be most suitable and practical for our community. This has proven to be a daunting task. We have redesigned and restructured over and over and have been unable to get where we need to be to meet our goals. With current prices and market availability of supplies and materials, we have tapped our resources. To provide the best product possible, we have decided to delay any additional bidding process or design changes until after the midterm elections in November. We hope that prices may come down and materials will be more readily available.
Our Mission statement is Community F.I.R.S.T. (Family, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Tradition.) The members of the Fire District developed this statement, which guides us in our decision-making. We feel that waiting a few more months in hopes of a reduction in costs, or a better picture of the future costs, would be the best decision to support our mission. Please bear with us as we struggle to provide the best and most efficient product that your hard-earned tax dollars can provide.
We hope to break ground in the first quarter of 2023 and look forward to sharing all of our plans with the incredible citizens of the New Melle Fire Protection District.
I hope you all have a safe and festive Fourth of July and enjoy a beautiful summer in our wonderful community.