Tyler, TX — Tyler Fire Chief, David Coble spoke at a community forum Tuesday.

The forum was at the Tyler Public Library, Chief Coble addressed diversity in the department as well as provided an update on the new fire stations. The city is building a new Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 4.

"Right now we have a pretty long response time; not really long, but more than we would like down in the South area of Tyler," Coble said.

That area is around Cumberland. It's an experience that's seen massive growth in the last few years.

The response times in that area can be close to eight minutes. It's almost twice as long as the rest of the city.

To bring that time down, a fire station will be built at Cumberland and Cherry Hill Drive. Chief Coble expects this will cut response times down to six minutes or less.

Fire Station 1 is set to be built at Palace Avenue and Gentry Parkway. The response times in this area of North Tyler aren't necessarily long, but having the station more centrally located could help firefighters reach emergencies in the outlying areas a little bit quicker.

"When we take away the other one (fire station) then this gives us a better response time to a larger area," the Chief said.

These response times aren't the only factor going into the new station, Chief Coble is using this as an opportunity to increase the diversity in the department.

"My plan is to make the new station for a recruit/training station," Chief Coble said.

Currently the department has one African American, two Hispanics (that identify), and zero women.

Coble says right now, applicants are required to have certifications before taking the test to be a firefighter. Those certifications cost $3,000 - $5,000 dollars and take a year to complete.

By having a recruit/training station, the fire department could take applicants at 18-years-old with a high school diploma - if they pass the test. They could train the recruits themselves before putting them on a truck.

"That gives minorities a little better chance at an opportunity to do better," the Chief said.

The city is expected to break ground on the new fire stations in October, and be completed by December 2019.