Sun City Fire District ramps up transition

By Rusty Bradshaw
Independent Newsmedia

Sun City Fire District officials continue to ride the bumpy road of transition.

With a groundbreaking for a new fire station behind them, district officials may be a little closer to realizing construction start for the new facility. It appears a plan for relocating power lines adjacent to the site is an arm’s length away.

“But until we get the final approval, we can’t move forward with setting a date for the start of construction,” said Ron Deadman, Sun City assistant chief. “We are targeting the first part of September, depending on this last major hurdle.”

District officials had originally hoped to start construction on the two-story fire station on the northwest corner of 111th and Michigan avenues in Youngtown. But APS officials could not decide on a plan of whether to relocate the lines or bury them underground. The plan under consideration now is a hybrid, according to Mr. Deadman.

“It looks like some will be pole movement and some will be buried,” he said. “We are still waiting for the APS engineering department to approve it.”

Mike Thompson, Sun City fire chief, said it appears APS crews could start pole relocation as early as July 29, with plan approval.

Power lines are not on poles right at the southern boundary of the property. To make room for smooth vehicle movement, parking and for safety, the lines need to be either on the other side of the alley that borders the site or underground.

The new station will replace the existing Fire Station 133, 13013 N. 111th Ave., Sun City. The new structure will house an engine company and eventually one of the district’s ambulances.

Ambulance service

Sun City officials are also getting the ambulance service, not quite one year old, into shape.

Fire officials changed medical billing companies several months ago because there were issues receiving revenue due to slow billings and other issues. Under the new company, AMB, district billing for ambulance service is nearly caught up.

“We have billed out $365,000 and we have already started to receive some revenue from that,” Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Deadman said there is a significant difference in revenue receipt under the new billing company.

“The revenue is coming back faster,” he explained. “Some recent ones came back within 15 days, compared to months under the other company.”

The Sun City ambulance service is still down one front line ambulance that was out for repair after a collision earlier this year. Medic 132 was hit by a driver who turned in front of the ambulance. The collision caused some front end damage. But the repair shop mechanics found things that were missed in the first inspection, according to Mr. Deadman.

“It has been nine weeks now,” Mr. Deadman said. “The repair shop guys are waiting for feedback from the insurance company.”

Fire season

Sun City firefighters and equipment are also working outside the community on wild land fires in the state.

The district’s brush truck and crew had been working a fire near Tucson and returned for about 22 hours before being reassigned to fires in Northern Arizona, according to Mr. Deadman.

“With all the rain earlier and the high heat lately, we knew this fire season was going to be a tough one,” he said.

New leader

The Sun City Fire District will also transition to a new leader at July’s end.

Mr. Thompson will retire after more than 30 years with the Sun City Fire Department, the past four as its chief. Mr. Deadman will take over the reins as interim chief.

Mr. Thompson’s final day on the job will be Friday, July 27.

“We are working on making this as smooth a transition as we can,” Mr. Thompson said.

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