At 12 minutes and 10 seconds, the Canyon Creek neighborhood suffers one of the worst average emergency response times from the Austin Fire Department, but progress may be on the horizon.
The city is exploring the potential for a fire station at 9804 N. RM 620, Austin, according to city documents and a city spokesperson. A fire station at that location would cut off much of the RM 620 commute made by fire trucks responding to the area from Austin Fire Station No. 39, which sits on River Place Boulevard off RM 2222.
Whether the fire station ends up there will be up to the Austin Police Department, which purchased the adjacent 5- and 11.7-acre lots at the location last month with money from the 2012 bond for a new police substation. APD is doing a feasibility study to see if the land can be used for a colocation of the two public safety departments.
“We want to be good partners,” APD Assistant Chief Eli Reyes said. “If there is enough space then I think it will be beneficial to the taxpayers and meet the needs of the city and fire department.”
The talks come seven months after Austin City Council directed city staff to build five fire stations in the most-needed areas by 2023. The other areas on the list in order of need are Del Valle/Moore’s Crossing, Travis Country, Loop 360/Davenport, and Goodnight Ranch, with Canyon Creek coming in at number five. Austin annexed the five areas between 1997-2015, however there was no follow up in providing adequate public safety services.
Although City Council knew about the fire station shortage as early as 2015, there was little movement until 2018, following heightened pressure from the community, some of whom said their insurance premiums were increasing due to distance from the closest fire station.
Canyon Creek’s station was scheduled to be the final one built; however, it is further along than Loop 360/Davenport—staff is still searching for a site—and Goodnight Ranch—staff is still surveying potential sites.
Reyes emphasized potential fire station construction at the RM 620 location was still in the infant stages, and there was not even money to build the police substation yet. He could provide no timeline other than, “The sooner, the better.”