San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 6th, 2009
Newest city groundbreaking to upgrade oldest city department

STAFF REPORT

The oldest city department in San Marcos is soon to have the city’s newest facility.

Three years after securing voter approval for the project, the City of San Marcos broke ground Tuesday on a new fire station to serve the Interstate-35 corridor and northeastern portions of the city.

The 19,960-square-foot Central Fire Station will be constructed on four acres at 100 Carlson Circle in San Marcos. The new station will house fire administration, five and a half bays for fire apparatus, a training classroom, 13 bedrooms, a physical fitness room, bunker gear storage, decontamination area and a maintenance room for breathing apparatus.

Completion of the project is scheduled for March 2010. The facility is designed with many environmentally friendly features, including the steel and concrete used in construction, lighting, floor finishes, appliances, plumbing fixtures and countertops.

“I can think of no better way to begin 2009 than by breaking ground on an important new facility for San Marcos – a new Central Fire Station located at the gateway to San Marcos,” said San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said.

Voters approved the $5 million station in a November 2005 bond election after a recommendation by the city’s Blue Ribbon Bond Committee.

The new station will bear the stamp of past San Marcos Fire Rescue (SMFR) officials. Former Fire Chief Mike Baker and a committee of fire department personnel participated in the design and development of the station, while former SMFR Fire Chiefs Dan O’Leary and Todd Derkacz laid the ground work though the capital improvements program (CIP) process and bond election. O’Leary made his contribution as the San Marcos city manager, the position he held until December 2007.

Founded in 1873 as a volunteer department organized in three companies, SMFR is the oldest City of San Marcos department. By 1906, a Sanborn map of San Marcos said the department included “50 volunteers, 1 paid man, 3 horses, 1 hook and ladder wagon, 2 hose wagons, and 1600 feet of good hose.”

The station burned down in 1914, killing the fire horses. The department responded by purchasing its first mechanized vehicle and building a fire station/city hall on Guadalupe Street, just north of Hopkins Street.

By the 1940s, the department had grown to more than 80 volunteers under the leadership of Chief Lewis Haynes, who served as chief for 46 years. The department still owns “Old Betsy,” an antique 1926 American LaFrance pumper, as well as a classic 1963 Ford Galaxy chief’s car.

Career firefighters came on the scene in the 1960s, growing in numbers to fully staff four stations. The city built its current Central Fire Station on Hutchison Street was in 1968. Today, SMFR consists of 48 career firefighters, a fire chief, assistant chief, division chief, and administrative coordinator.

The building contractor for the new station is Stokes Construction. Wiginton Hooker Jeffry of Plano and Austin are the architects. Kleinfelder is doing the geotechnical work, the engineers are Byrn & Associates, Pietsch PE Consulting Services are the engineering consultants, and the landscape designers are Patrick Kerwin and Paul Plata.

Narvaiz, City Manager Rick Menchaca and Interim Fire Chief Len Nored spoke at Tuesday’s groundbreaking.

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