By Tony Lopez

ELK GROVE (CBS13) – Elk Grove’s population is forecast to grow by 50,000 people over the next five years, but there’s concern that the city’s building boom is putting stress on first responders.

When a house fire breaks out, Aristos Boone knows every second counts.

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“You don’t know what’s going to happen next, you don’t know how much time you have,” Boone said.

Flames swept through his Elk Grove home last May with him, his wife and eight kids inside.

“It happens fast, flashes right before your eye,” Boone said.

But as Elk Grove sees new housing and population growth, emergency response times haven’t been keeping up.

So how long does it currently take when you call 9-1-1? Elk Grove’s Cosumnes Fire Department has a goal of responding to nearly every call in just six minutes, but its current average response time is more than seven and a half minutes.

“We have to work to reduce that,” said Cosumnes Fire Department Chief Felipe Rodriguez.

Chief Rodriguez says new stations and crews are needed to get there quicker.

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“The time was now to add the additional resources,” he said.

So the fire district is planning its own building boom. Its five-year plan calls for four new fire stations to be built.

“As the community grows and the service demand is there then we grow as well,” Rodriguez said.

The new station along Poppy Ridge Road – and the next one after that – will both be close to the new 12-story Sky River Casino and Hotel being built along Highway 99.

“We’ll expect some additional calls for service, so that’s one of the reasons why we’re also adding this new fire engine and new ambulance,” Rodriguez said.

Each new station costs about ten million dollars to build – and nearly four million a year to staff –  with money coming from developer impact fees, property taxes, and grants – but it’s something Boone says is worth every cent.

“You never know if it’s going to be your family or it’s going to be you, but the moment something happens, you’re eternally grateful for the services,” Boone said.

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The first new station is expected to open in about 14 months, but the new fire engine will go into service next month and will be based at an existing station until the new one is built.