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Animals unfazed by fire drill

Concern about the animals’ reaction to a new fire station being located on the shelter’s property seems to be unfounded.
During last month’s meeting of the Animal Control Board, City Manager Pete Peterson said an additional fire station on North Roan Street would address a hole in coverage in that area. He proposed subdividing the 6.64 acres into two lots and transferring the 1.3-acre lot at the front of the property to the city.
“Based on the city’s putting up the money for the shelter and the need for another public safety site, I want the board to consider transferring (the lot) back to the city,” he repeated during the Aug. 10 meeting.
Though Peterson said the fire station would not be built for another six to seven years, board members wondered how the sirens would affect the animals’ behavior.
Director Debbie Dobbs offered to speak with the fire chief and reported last week that units would not activate the sirens until they were pulling off the property onto North Roan Street.
In addition, she said the shelter staff recently conducted a mock fire response to observe the animals. “We scheduled a time for a truck to be outside,” she said. “Then we turned the fans off and turned on the siren for 30 seconds.”
Dobbs said a person with a camera was posted with the dogs who had no reaction. “They didn’t even seem to be aware,” she said. “This building is insulated well.”
Peterson said minutes from the June 2014 meeting indicate the ACB approved sectioning off a portion of the property for a fire station. He also reminded members the shelter would be subject to paying property taxes for the separate lot.
“Is there a date to avoid the property tax?” Commissioner Joe Grandy asked.
Commissioner Robbie McGuire, GIS technician for the Washington County Assessor’s Office, said the property is currently considered one lot. “Until you act upon it with a deed, you’ve not done anything,” he told committee members.
City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin asked what action needs to be taken, and Peterson said a deed that would separate the property would have to be recorded.
Linda Bearfield, the board member representing the Washington County Humane Society, said she requested information from another shelter that has a fire station located beside it. “I haven’t heard back yet so I can’t have an opinion from the Humane Society,” she said.
ACB members decided to defer making a decision until the September meeting.