The Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District is selling one of its station to the Lake West Ambulance Service.
Cam-Mo Ambulance District doing business as Lake West Ambulance has agreed to purchase the SBFPD's Station 5 house on Sellers Rd. for $175,000.
Lake West has been paying rent to use the station as its second ambulance base. Its main base is located at the southern limits of Laurie.
"Due to the increase in call volume as well as increased staffing, this purchase will be a progressive step forward for our service. It will allow for future expansion in our district and better coverage for our citizens," said Lake West Office Manager Gayle Webb.
Now the rental arrangement will flip with the SBFPD to pay rent - not to exceed $600 per year - to continue to house apparatus there.
"There will be absolutely no change in service delivery. This is merely a change of ownership of the building," Sunrise Beach Fire Chief Dennis Reilly said.
The district has four other stations besides the Sellers Rd. house, but the only station staffed with career firefighters 24 hours a day is located on Route TT.
The Sellers Rd. station house area has not had any volunteers for some time and the call volume from the area for the district is minimal.
The Sellers Rd. station's service zone was the only one of the five response zones that did not generate a call for service in a 30 day period in 2012, according to Reilly. The area also saw five calls or less for six months out of the year, he said.
In 2012, the response area accounted for only 9 percent of the district's total call volume.
"Our staffed unit from Fire Station 2 (on Route TT) is able to respond to that area in a reasonable time frame and we also use mutual aid resources to ensure we have adequate capabilities to handle any emergency that might arise in the neighborhood," Reilly said.
The sale is part of an effort by officials to reposition the district into a more strategic way of managing finances to provide better service.
"Our organization feels strongly that we need to continue to seek ways to support our current staff and grow the size of the staff without placing an undue burden on the tax payers. We are optimistic that the sale of fire station 5 will help the fire district in accomplishing this goal," Reilly said.
The district's long term goal is to be able to open a second staffed station.
Between utilities and insurance on the building, the district expects to save several thousand dollars a year in operating funds.
Page 2 of 2 - "The money that will become available is nowhere near what we need to open another career fire house, but every dime helps. We have not yet identified a location for the next career fire house either. We will begin a long range strategic planning process once the new assistant chief is hired. This process will help to answer those questions," Reilly said. "With tight budgets every dime counts. We can drastically reduce our operating costs for that station while still maintaining a presence in that area."
Reilly has also checked with the Insurance Service Organization and confirmed that the change in ownership will not affect the district's ISO rating.
"We will maintain apparatus at the station. Should we gain volunteers in that neighborhood they will have access to our equipment. Most if not all of our training and administrative functions are now done from our Fire Headquarters. With all these factors in mind, the sale of the fire house seemed like a logical move to reduce our operating costs and allow us to meet other needs within the organization," he said.
The bulk of the money from the sale itself will be used to establish an apparatus replacement fund ahead of the extra funds from a recently approved levy increase that will capture debt service funds on bonds set to be retired in 2016.
With the money from the sale, the district is also considering the possibility of enhancing communications capabilities with their self-contained breathing apparatus as well as other items that were found to be needed in district's major item analysis.