Why are Spring Fire Department stations answering so few calls?

SPRING, Texas – Two fire stations within the Spring Fire Department -- both of which cost a combined $7.1 million to build -- hardly respond to any calls, Channel 2 Investigates has learned.

The Spring Fire Department is composed of both paid and volunteer firefighters, and the stations manned solely by volunteer firefighters routinely are unable to make it to emergency scenes, based on records provided by Spring FD, some of which were first provided to springhappenings.com.

[RELATED: Spring FD takes nearly 3.5 hours to arrive at fatal fire that left mother, daughter dead]

“It’s the best system we can afford to do with the money we receive from Harris County ESD No. 7,” Spring Fire Chief Scott Seifert said when asked if this is the best system.

Over a two-month period, from late November to late January, Fire Station No. 78 at 1225 Booker Road, built in 2015 at a cost of $4 million, responded to only five of 73 dispatched calls -- a response rate of 6.8 percent. Click here to read more on Station No. 78 response times.

More than nine times out of 10, volunteer firefighters are unable to make it to the scene.

Station No. 78 is now primarily used for fleet maintenance and firefighter training.

Another all-volunteer station, Station No. 77 at 2900 Cypresswood Drive, built in 2012 for $3.1 million, had a response rate of 25 percent over the same period. Click here to read more on Station No. 77 response times.

“As many times as I have been down there, I have hardly seen anybody,” nearby resident John Thompson said.

“If I felt there was concern for the public, I would have concern for my family as well, and I have no issue with that,” Seifert said.

Seifert said his department, like many others, employs a computerized dispatch system that automatically dispatches other equipment to ensure effective emergency response.

Response time statistics, provided by the Spring Fire Department, show department-wide average response times have dropped annually, from 8:05 in 2010 to 6:12 in 2017. Click here to see a chart with the average emergency response times.

Seifert said he wants to put paid firefighters at each fire station, but there is not presently enough room in the budget.

“As we continue to receive more ad valorem and sales tax, we continue to staff more stations,” Seifert said.

He added that Station No. 78 could shift to a hybrid of paid and volunteer staff as soon as 2019. In the meantime, the Spring Fire Department will soon have another new fire station, which replaces an aging one.

The price tag attached to new Station No. 74 is $7.79 million.

Springhappenings.com has been reporting on this issue and shared some of its findings with KPRC2.