Del Valle taking safety into their own hands instead of waiting for Austin to build fire station

It was a rainy day in Del Valle on Friday.  Kind of an understatement actually.
It's days like this one that remind Berdoll Farms residents like Ashley Yonkin...that help, if they needed it, is really far away. "Lightning may strike, may start a fire, there's the chance of some type of emergency, flood," Yonkin said.

Tony Maldanado says the nearest fire station is across from the airport.

"God forbid that someday we'll have a major fire out here with the conditions being unfavorable.  High winds, low humidity.  One of these structures catches on fire, they're built between 10 and 15 feet of each other.  It won't be long before you start having a major problem out here," Maldanado said.

"I read on the city website that their average response time is 8 minutes but it's 13 to Del Valle so that 5 extra minutes could mean the difference between having your house and not having your house," Yonkin said.  

Bob Nicks with the Austin Firefighters Association says Austin is behind on fire stations and it takes too long to build them. "Well at least 5.  We're building one now in Onion Creek that we found out we needed in 2000," Nicks said.  

Council Member Delia Garza told FOX 7 last month work needs to be done to reduce the cost of the stations that have been proposed for construction.

"It seems really high.  The cost of the fire stations are like $11 million plus and other surrounding cities have been able to build fire stations for significantly lower costs," Garza said in April. 

Nicks agrees...$11 mil is too high.

"That's absolutely ridiculous.  I mean just down the street, Pflugerville, they're building them for $3 million.  There's no reason why the City of Austin can't do the same," Nicks said.  

Until Del Valle gets a little help from the city, Berdoll Farms residents have some things of their own in the works.  Yonkin is starting a petition.

"We're asking for a temporary fire station to be built while Mrs. Garza works on the funding for our permanent fire station," she said.

And this weekend, Christina Muhammad is organizing a "Community Awareness Training" event...bringing in firefighters, medics and police to basically teach residents how to take their safety into their own hands.

"That's exactly what we're doing, we're taking matters into our own hands," Muhammad said.  "How to learn how to put out that small grease fire, when to call the fire department, when we talk about medical, how to take care of that small...maybe it's an Asthma attack," Muhammad said.  

Muhammad says every one of those 13 minutes counts.  She wants to hold the training sessions every month.

"What we want and we plan to do is have trainings here so that residents can get involved every single month and they can have something, a new training under their belt so until we get our fire department, guess what...we will have to be the rescuers, the first responders here in Berdoll," she said.

Speaking of that petition, Council Member Garza is actually working on temporary stations.
On May 24th she's bringing a resolution to council for at least 2 temporary fire stations.  One at Travis Country and the other near Berdoll Farms.

Bob Nicks is excited about the plan and he says there have been some really creative ideas thrown out there like using a strip mall or even old toll booths.