Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories about the projects the Rio Rancho municipal public-safety bond on the March 3 ballot would fund if approved. This article discusses the proposed Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department projects. The first article covered proposed Rio Rancho Police Department projects and appeared online at 8 a.m. Feb. 1. It is still available.
Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department would get two new fire trucks and make two stations more livable if city voters approve a proposed public safety bond in March.
The bond would generate $3.79 million for the police and fire departments and be repaid through property taxes. Approving the bond would keep taxes at the same level, while voting it down would result in a decrease of $18 per $100,000 of taxable value.
Fire Chief Paul Bearce hopes to replace the 13-year-old ladder truck, which has more than 140,000 miles on it, at Station 5 in Enchanted Hills, and the 11-year-old fire engine at Station 7 in Vista Hills.
“We have such a big jurisdiction, it increases the mileage on these vehicles exponentially,” Bearce said.
Industry standards recommend using fire apparatus day to day for 10 years and then as reserve vehicles, substituting for front-line apparatus that are in the shop, for five years, he said. The engine and ladder truck in question would become reserve vehicles and the department would get rid of even older reserve trucks.
Last year, Bearce said, repairing that engine and ladder truck cost $75,000 combined, and the two were out of service for 260 days between them.
“We rely on those vehicles to get to our calls,” he said.
He added that newer trucks also have better safety features and are more efficient.
“Fire apparatus are high-ticket items,” Bearce said, adding that it’s hard to find enough money in the city general fund for them.
He would also like to use some of the bond money to replace three cardiac monitors the manufacturer no longer supports. The devices are still certified to monitor heart rhythms and provide defibrillation if necessary, but the maker won’t fix them if they break because they’re too old.
Plus, Bearce said, newer models have better technology and more features.
As for facility updates, the bond would provide for private sleeping quarters and a larger kitchen at Station 5, which was built in 1999 as a combined fire and police station.
“It never had the bedroom facilities or the kitchen facilities for people to live there for 48 hours,” Bearce said.
He said the kitchen is inadequate for the number of people assigned to the station.
Also, the building has open bunk rooms, which is awkward because 10 percent of Rio Rancho firefighters are female and they have no sleeping quarters separate from the males. Individual rooms would allow for better privacy, Bearce said.
The rest of the bond money would go to Station 1 on Southern Boulevard.
Its six apparatus-bay doors, which weren’t designed for use as intense as at Station 1, are wearing out. The city has money in its general fund to replace three, but the department needs the bond to replace the other three, Bearce said.
Those doors were manufactured in 1981, and the city can’t find replacement parts when they break, he added.
A legislative appropriation allowed RRFR to remodel that building’s living quarters in 2013, but the other side needs to be brought up to code, Bearce said.
“It won’t be a wholesale gutting of that side; the remaining funds will be used to make it more livable,” he said.
Voters with more questions about the bond can attend one of the information open houses on the subject, or participate in a Facebook Live event next week. See “Datebook” on page 6 for details.