SARATOGA SPRINGS – Groundbreaking on the city’s long-discussed third fire station is expected to begin any day after the Saratoga Springs City Council approved more than $5 million worth of contracts Tuesday.
The City Council agreed to pay Bunkoff General Contractors, of Latham, $4.436 million for the construction and DLC Electric, of Troy, $638,000 for the electrical work. The contracts will be paid for out of the more than $17 million in bond sales that Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi announced earlier this month.
Overall, the project is expected to cost roughly $8 million, and the new station could be up and running as early as spring of next year, according to Commissioner of Public Safety James Montagnino.
City officials have been striving to build an East Side fire station for at least two decades, and the effort ramped up in 2019 when the city made a deal to put the station on Henning Road on 2.36 acres of state land leased by the New York Racing Association.
Fire officials say the station is long overdue as the city’s growth has hampered incident response times, especially on the east side of the 29-square-mile city.
As calls in the city have climbed from roughly 2,500 two decades ago to nearly 5,700 last year, response times have slowed, Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Dyer explained this spring. Industry standards say units should strive for response times of no more than 5 minutes, but residents in the eastern part of the city sometimes wait 10 minutes for help to arrive, Dyer said. The new station is expected to drop response times by about 3 minutes, according to the assistant chief.
“The eastern side of the city has been developing at a rapid pace for years, and right now the response times to the far East Side are about double the response times elsewhere,” said Commissioner Montagnino. “So Station 3 is critical to being able to serve that part of the city.”
The city is still waiting for the results of their application for a $4.1 million federal grant that would pay to staff the new station. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant would pay for 16 additional city firefighters for three years, allowing the city to properly distribute staffing.
Montagnino said the city is one of three finalists for the grant and is expecting news by the middle of next month.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Montagnino said.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.