Fire Stations as an Investment
August 25, 2009 1:26 PM
Earlier this week I opened a new fire station on the far west side. This is the second new fire station we've opened in four years after going more than two decades without adding any new stations. Fire stations are big investments. This one cost $5 million to build and it will cost about $1.7 million a year to operate.
The biggest reason to do this is to save lives and property. Our goal is to have five minute response times all over the city. We know that if we can get to a fire or a person with a medical emergency like a heart attack within five minutes our chances of saving the property or the person are much better than if we arrive later.
So that's the primary reason, but another reason to do it is to help grow our economy. Madisonians enjoy lower property insurance rates because of our excellent fire service. This is a direct example of how these kinds of public expenditures add up to investments in our future prosperity. Those who only look at the cost of a new fire station aren't taking into account the savings in insurance rates and reduced property damage much less the lives saved.
It goes back to a fundamental belief I have that investing in our city, whether it's fire stations, streets, parks or public transportation, is a long-run investment in our economy. We always need to look at the long-term return on our investment, not just the short-run costs.