By ANITA TODD | Contributing Writer
DAVENPORT – The City of Davenport broke ground on Fire Station No. 2 on June 15 — a nearly $700,000 project scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
With the population of the city having tripled over the past four years – making it the fastest growing city in the county – the need for an additional, and more strategically located, station has become necessary, according to Jerry “J.T.” Torrance, Davenport Fire Chief.
“We are ahead of the game. We know where we are,” Torrance said. “Davenport is a city on the go.”
With the increase in population comes an increase in the number of emergency calls the fire department receives. In order to continue to provide appropriate service, the additional station was needed.
An additional benefit to residents is that the new station will improve the city’s ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating, creating lower insurance premiums for residents.
SunRail, CSX Intermodal and AmTrak rail traffic combined has increased the trains traveling through Davenport by 25-30 percent, according to Torrance. The current fire station location is on the east side of the railroad tracks; however, most of the new growth is on the west side.
“The increase of 25-30 percent in rail traffic means that there is a 25-30 percent higher chance that we wouldn’t be able to get to an emergency because of a train blocking the crossing,” Torrance said.
The new fire station is located on the west side of the railroad track and is closer to most of the new housing developments and businesses.
The additional fire station will also improve the department’s ISO rating, a formula some insurance companies use to price homeowner’s insurance. The department is currently a 2, with a 1 being the best possible rating. Lakeland is the only Polk County fire department with a 1 rating and Davenport is the only department with a 2.
“We want to be the best we can be for Davenport residents,” Torrance said.
Fire Station No. 2 will be 3,000 total square feet with 1,800 of that to be used as living area and 1,200 for the drive-thru bay. The living area will include one office, two bedrooms and a dorm — initially enough to house six firefighters. It will also include a full kitchen and day room. The station will have finished concrete floors and a backup generator, as well.
In October, the city will begin the process of hiring six new firefighters and at the end of the year it will purchase a new fire engine.
Fire Station No. 2 will be located at 1461 North Boulevard West. Fire Station No. 1, in downtown Davenport, will be the main station and continue to be the office of Torrance and house six full-time firefighters, three part-time firefighters and 12 reserve firefighters.
The Fire Department was formed in 1926 and operated as an all-volunteer department until 2004.