MARMADUKE, AR (KAIT) – Residents in eastern Marmaduke hope the addition of a new fire station on their side of the railroad tracks will be beneficial in times of emergency. According to Marmaduke Mayor Steve Dickson, the city purchased an 8,000 square foot structure on Industrial Avenue. Dickson said he hopes to restore the building, which was heavily damaged during the 2006 tornado, by using volunteer labor and materials. Work has already started on the project.
"We purchased this as a second fire department, as a second fire station for the east side of Marmaduke due to the city being split by the railroad track," said Dickson.
Dickson said residents who live on Bud Street, Short Street, Long and East Maple should see improved service. Currently, the structure houses three different types of fire trucks. Dickson said there is room for additional vehicles as well.
"All of our major industries are over here with ARI and Anchor Packaging, the Delta Co-op, we have approximately 250 to 300 residents over here," said Dickson. "We felt like they needed equal protection and with the railroad splitting the town like it was, it was vital that we serve these people out here."
Fire Chief Nicki McDowell said the building, which was originally purchased for $45,000, has been renovated to include new siding, roofing, electric wiring and other improvements. Eventually, McDowell said the building will include a training area and restrooms.
McDowell also said he hopes the city can get a lower Insurance Service Office rating, or ISO. Marmaduke is a Class 4 ISO.
"It's a rating that the insurance companies go by to set your price on your insurance. The lower we can get it, ten being the worst, one being the best. The lower we can get it, the less you're going to pay on your insurance," said McDowell. "We'd love to see a two here. That's what my goal is."
Dickson said the city has the best possible ISO rating among cities with a volunteer department.
"We've just pretty much outgrown out little station (station 1) that's across the tracks, so we put in station two here. It's basically handling our tower trucks, two pumpers, a brush truck and our incident command trailer," said McDowell. "We're about a square mile (in size) but we have two factories, a school, the co-op, a major railroad and then we've got Highway 49 going through here. It keeps us pretty busy."
Dickson said an ambulance service could eventually operate out of Marmaduke. Currently, the city's ambulance service is provided by Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould, which also keeps a truck in Rector.
"We're eight minutes minimum from the time the call is made until we can get a response (on scene) and that's on a good day," said Dickson.
"It helps our response time. We've got two factories that basically use the railroad tracks all the time and there are a lot of times they have to stop the traffic on the train. It makes it impossible for us to get over here with a truck. Having this station here, at least we've got a way of getting to the trucks and getting them to the fire," said McDowell. "We use the fire trucks quite often. We don't have that many fires in town, but we go out to the surrounding communities. We've had mutual aid with all the other fire departments and if they call us out and they need manpower or water, we bring it to them."
McDowell said his department averages a 3 and a half minute response time. He'd like to see that reduced even more. The nationwide average is around 5 minutes.
"We just went through an approximately $160,000 renovation program with $75,000 of that coming from a Rural Services Block Grant," said Dickson. "The city financed the rest of it and we'll be paying for that for the next five years."