Flower Mound is expanding, specifically, on the west side of town with numerous new developments currently being built. Town officials eventually expect the total population to hover around 110,000, prompting the need for yet another fire station. No date of construction and timeline for the new station have been announced for Station No. 6, which will replace a facility that currently serves as the sixth fire station on Stonecrest Road.
“This is a crucial first step,” Flower Mound Fire Department Chief Paul Henley said. “Land is a diminishing thing, because when it’s gone, you don’t have it anymore.”
The Town of Flower Mound maintains population data available to the Flower Mound Fire Department, and this information helps anticipate where services likely will be needed based on zoning, land use and undeveloped land. The town’s master plan can be used to help identify where future residential growth is anticipated, including the west side of town, and this information helps determine a build-out population, said Melissa Demmitt, Flower Mound’s communications director. The estimated population to the west of Whites Branch Creek is approximately 4,000. Though an exact number cannot be provided at this time, the upcoming Flower Mound Ranch housing development can build up to 9,000 units, split across single-family residential, multifamily units and senior living, and the estimated population for Flower Mound Ranch is around 20,000, Demmitt said.
The existing town population is approximately 80,000 with an estimated buildout of 110,000. Of the remaining 30,000 people to join the town, 20,000 will be within Flower Mound Ranch and a majority of the remaining 10,000 people are anticipated to also be in the west side of town, based on estimates.
The existing Fire Station No. 6 at Stonecrest Road will be transformed into a west-side operations and public works facility once station operations are relocated, Demmitt said. The new station is still a few years from going online.
She added that when existing Fire Station No. 6 opened on Stonecrest Road in 2017—the population of the town then was 71,850, and it is now 80,000—it was always meant to reduce emergency response times in the Canyon Falls area as the town continued to search for land adequate for a permanent fire station.
As areas grow, the town needs to continue to provide fire suppression services efficiently, Henley and Flower Mound Deputy Fire Chief Brandon Barth said. The new Station No. 6 will be designed so that fire personnel can make use of space to plan for future growth and equipment needs. Four to six people per shift will work out of the new Station No. 6 when it goes online. The building’s design will be user-friendly and practical but will take comfort into consideration, Henley said.
The new No. 6 will be larger than the temporary fire station in order to maximize town facility needs, so officials will go into the design phase with those needs in mind. They’ll ensure the bay space is large enough to house the projected needed tools and equipment. Lastly, the dorm and living space will need to be larger than the current station to accommodate future and existing personnel.
“In terms of aesthetics, we will do our best to make sure we match the beauty of surrounding neighborhoods,” Henley said about the new station. “We’re going to put great detail in that. However, I’m also very, very budget conscious. We’ll do it as financially efficiently as we can and make sure it is aesthetically pleasing to the neighborhood.”
Town Manager James Childers said funding discussions and the design process have not started. In the past, the city has funded fire stations through selling bonds. He also noted that calls for fire-related emergencies have increased since 2015.
“This would be the most likely funding approach for Station No. 6, but it’s still way too early to say that definitively,” he said in an email.
Henley said when he became chief about two years ago, he performed a needs assessment to see where the department was functioning and he thought the Flower Mound Fire Department needed a strategic outlook for five to 10 years. He communicated his views to Childers.
“With the needs analysis, we look at where are our stations, where is the future growth and what do we need to plan in terms of deployment analysis and those things,” Henley said.
He said Station No. 6 was especially concerning because of its temporary nature and a need existed there to provide adequate service.
The fire department has an Insurance Services Organization rating of 1, with that rating being the highest rating. These ratings reflect how well a fire department can protect communities. The temporary station on the west side was built to accommodate growth and to meet Insurance Services Organization requirements for distance between fire stations and capacities, Henley said.
The temporary facility is not large enough to house additional personnel or equipment as the area continues to develop; plus, the current location is not on one of the main thoroughfares and creates additional turns out of the station to reach a main road.
“It is a little small for the needs and it’s in a location that is not optimal,” Henley said.
The station is functional, though, and fire personnel can get anywhere in the district in a timely fashion, he said.••“If we can enhance that, that’s what we want to do,” he said. “So that little piece of property—six acres, right across from Argyle High School—for me was very attractive [for the future station].”
Fire officials said response time goals are established by the National Fire Protection Association. The nearby major thoroughfare to the planned sixth station, FM 1171, saves firefighters time in getting out of the facility and on the road and to their destination, Henley said.
Flower Mound Mayor Derek France said the new Station No. 6, as well as any ensuing fire stations, will “keep Flower Mound prepared” for the projected population increases.
“The population growth of Flower Mound and its surrounding areas plays a significant role in determining the need for constructing a new fire station,” France said. “It is our responsibility to recognize the impact of this growth on public safety and infrastructure requirements, not only within our town but also in neighboring communities.”
When to build the replacement station, as well as costs, have not been determined, as discussions among town and fire department officials have yet to occur. The first part of the puzzle centered on acquiring the land, fire officials said. No plans have been drawn, but the proposed location suits the department, Henley said.
Barth said a Geographic Information System was used to determine drive times, and pointed fire officials to build in the central location in the Canyon Falls community.
Henley said response time is a great metric, but it does not measure effectiveness, only an ability for fire personnel to be effective. This new station will give the fire department the best chance at success because drive times will be shortened.
The current station is “adequate” for current needs, Henley said, but as the population increases alongside town development, including the Flower Mound Ranch development, he wants a station that will be viable for 10 to 20 years in the future and be able to respond to the town’s growth.