In the past 10 years or, call volume for the Town of Batavia Fire Department has jumped from about 50 calls per year to around 300 calls per year, and the number could soar to 800 calls per year in the next two decades.
That kind of growth requires planning, according to Board of Directors Member Tim Yeager, who was joined by department leaders Thursday to unveil a new master plan -- the first of its kind -- for the department.
"What has occured in the past 10 years, what's occurring now and what could potentially happen in the future -- we tried to address all of those things (in the plan)," Yaeger said. "We don't want to play catch up and be reactive. We want to be proactive and anticipate those potentials and better plan for those in order to keep costs down."
The department will remain all volunteer, Yaeger said, but staffing will need to increase from 41 active members to 100 active members.
That kind of recruitment and retention, according to the plan, may mean possible property tax relief for volunteers, stipends, retirement plans as well as other incentives to volunteer. The department's bylaws may also need to be amended to relax the residency requirements.
The biggest expense for the department is in possibly replacing two aging and inadequate fire halls, which could cost $5.8 million and $2.7 million respectively.
The department will also need a second ladder truck at a cost of $625,000 and to replace the current ladder truck, another $1 million. Plus over the next several years, other aging pieces of equipment will need to be replaced at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000.
All of this can be done, Yaeger said, without increasing the fire district's tax rate, which is currently $2.34 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Growth in the town, much of it fueled by the anticipated success of the Genesee Agri-Business Park, will drive up the overall assessed value of property in the town, meaning more revenue for the fire district.
"That increase should sustain us based on our predictions over that 20-year period and keep in consideration any increase in the cost of doing business over those 20 years," said Fire Chief Randy McIntire. "We can keep the tax rate as it is."
Station #1, at 8382 Lewiston Road, is 20 years old and only 6,800 square feet. The concept #1 new station would be 18,000 square feet and include five engine bays, a room for turn-out gear, men's and women's locker rooms, offices, a workout room, lounge area and increased storage.
But Station #2 is perhaps the location in most immediate need of replacement and enlargement.
The large buildings of the ag park will require the fire department to have a ladder truck at Station #2, and with the anticipated growth in both business and residential on the east side of town, the department will need updated trucks and personnel ready to respond from Station #2, according to the report.
Built on Clinton Street Road in 1977, the 1,920-square-foot facility has only two engine bays and not much else.
The concept #2 new station would be 8,200 square feet, have three bays, offices, conference room, locker rooms and a lounge area.
Construction on the new Station #2 would begin in 2014.
While the plan doesn't anticipate a tax increase, and forecasts the ability of the department to pay for new equipment out of tax revenue, the cost of new stations will probably mean the department will need to take out construction loans at an anticipated interest rate of 4.5 percent.
The plan came about because department officials were looking at growth in the town and realized they better be ready for it, but they didn't have a lot of data on what the town was planning or what was anticipated.
Department officials met with town officials over the past several months and gathered data to help them develop a plan for the future.
"We had a lot of ideas, and lot of good ideas on where to move forward, but there was nothing documented," Yaeger said. "We needed to gather the data to justify the decisions that we needed to make. All of the decisions in this plan are based on data."
UPDATE: Forgot to link to the PDF of the report. Here it is.