New fire station sought for area south of LSU

As hundreds of apartments have sprung up south of LSU, a 20th Baton Rouge fire station may come to West Lee Drive as the Baton Rouge Fire Department looks to maintain its Class 1 rating.

“LSU is growing constantly, and we haven’t built a fire station out there in a long time,” said Metro Councilman John Delgado, whose district covers the site of the proposed station. “It makes sense to build the infrastructure now.”

Known as Station 20, the proposed $2.4 million project would bring a roughly 7,000-square foot station to a large plot of donated land on West Lee Drive near Etta Street, said Mark Miles, Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman.

The Fire Department has discussed building a new station in the area for the last six years, especially after rapid growth in the area from apartment complexes with hundreds of new units, Miles said.

Though no firm completion date has been set, the station would be built in about a year after approval and other preparation steps such as contract bidding and land surveying, Miles said.

The Baton Rouge Metro City Council will discuss Station 20 on Wednesday and vote on the addition on Aug. 27, Delgado said.

Stations on Brightside Drive, Menlo Drive and Perkins Road currently cover the area, but a maximum 1.5-mile response radius from any potential structure is key to a Class 1 rating, Miles said. Miles was not sure whether the current stations left any parts of the city out of that radius, but he added that an engine heading east from the Brightside Drive station could get stuck while waiting for a passing train to cross the tracks.

The Class 1 rating is based on factors like response times, staffing levels and fire hydrant locations, and is measured on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best, according to the website for ISO, the company that manages the ratings. The rating affects the price of home insurance premiums. BRFD is the only fire department in the country to retain a Class 1 rating from ISO for more than 15 years, according to the fire department’s website.

The station would be largely similar to other stations in the area, housing five firefighters and a fire engine at any given time. Station 20 could also fit an aerial truck, also known as a “ladder truck,” though it is not yet clear whether the department will need one.

Funding for the station would come from re-allocating existing revenue, rather than from any new expenses, Delgado said. The fire department would allocate the Station 20’s fire engine and staff from other locations.