Public safety entities in Missouri City and Sugar Land are trying to ensure they are meeting the public's needs by adding to or altering existing facilities and considering new construction.
Residents in Missouri City will soon see a new fire station and could also see an expanded Public Safety Headquarters. The public safety facility improvements were approved by voters in the May bond election.
"In 1989, there were close to 36,000 people living in Missouri City, there was limited commercial business and there were approximately35 police officers in the MCPD," Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin said. "Missouri City now has 99 police officers who serve a population of about 68,000 residents,and the city has a considerable amount of commercial business activity."
In Sugar Land, city officials are comparing notes on a proposal for a new public safety training center that could be used by all of the city's first responders.
"The idea is to look at [other locations] and see what would be something that would be a good fit for the city of Sugar Land," Sugar Land Fire Chief Juan Adame said. "We would draw best practices and best facilities to meet the needs of the Sugar Land [public safety departments] today and10–15 years down the road."Sugar Land officials are also gearing up for the city's new EMS services—a service typically provided by the county—which will begin Jan. 1.
In the last bond election, voters said yes to Proposition 3, which proposed $5 million for the city's sixth fire station along Lake Olympia Parkway.
"The new station will reduce instances where fire trucks respond to calls outside of their district and will provide the city with an additional fire truck that will also serve as a 'back up' to the north part of Missouri City," said Russell Sander, Missouri City's fire and rescue services chief.
The location was recommended in a 2008 consultant study, which also listed two others: one near Oilfield Road and one at Waters Lake Boulevard and Scanlan Trace.
"The latter station, Fire Station5, is currently under construction and is being fully funded by residents of Sienna Plantation," Sander said.
When Fire Station No. 6 is completed, it will improve, or at least maintain, Missouri City's ISO rating, Sander said. An ISO rating is a statistical evaluation by the Insurance Services Office of a city's response times to emergency situations. These ratings can affect insurance premiums.
In recent years, the fire department has worked with other response teams as the area has grown, Sander said.
"As we've watched the growth in this county continue, fire departments from across Fort Bend County have partnered together,"he said.Voters also approved $5.7 million for a facilities study and its implementation of the Missouri City Public Safety Headquarters.Berezin said that the study's goal is to figure out how the current headquarters can be either improved or expanded.
A public training center is only in the conceptual stages. Adame said they have been presenting what it should contain and what it should look like.
"Right now, we have to travel outside the city to get any type of meaningful training, so having a training facility, a public safety training facility, in the city would ensure that our firefighting forces stay in the city and that they're able to respond to any events inside the city," he said.
The center would be a "multi-faceted training building," Adame said, featuring a classroom, a shooting range, a driving track and a multiple story drill tower. It would built by and for the city of Sugar Land, not as a joint facility with Fort Bend County. Adame said public safety departments from surrounding cities might come to the facility to complete their training as well.
Sugar Land's public safety officials visited existing training centers in The Woodlands and Denton to gather some ideas. Brinkley said the city's building would not be modeled exactly after the other facilities.
"We were just looking at the types of facilities and some of the equipment the other cities have," Brinkley said.