After years of evaluation the Springfield Fire Department may soon come to a decision how to better service the city. Resources have been moved to high demand areas of the city before but Fire Chief David Hall believes other options should be explored.
“We’ve pretty much made all the moves that we could do to maximize our usage without either closing a fire station or relocating those resources to other areas of the city or by having additional staffing or equipment,” said Hall.
In December, the Springfield Fire Department suggested relocating staff and apparatus from stations 6 and 12 based on the results of its staffing and development study.
At that meeting with the City Council, many members stated they were against closing stations. They asked what a plan would look like for fully covering the high demand areas without any closings. In a follow-up meeting in January, Hall delivered 10 possible options. Another meeting has not yet been set. Of the plans, costs range from zero dollars to keep the status quo to $26 million to add significant resources to the entire system.
Some of those options could depend on whether the department can bring on additional staff. It’s applied for a grant that would allow seven firefighters to be hired.
“I would expect before July that we would have some clear direction both internally on what we could do as well as approval from City Council in order to move forward with that,” said Hall.
Hall recommends building a temporary fire station near Kansas Expressway and College St, which he says would eventually become permanent. Another station would be added to currently owned property on W. Chestnut Expressway. The land was purchased in 2012 with the intent of someday building a firehouse.
“What we’re doing now is really a continuance of what we had started back then but it’s just a matter of identifying the funding for the cost of building the station as well as the annual cost of hiring the additional firefighters.”
According to Hall, community feedback has been similar to that of council’s back when he first suggested to them relocating staff and equipment.
“I think probably the most common one I hear is ‘I don’t like the idea of that of potentially relocating those stations. I would rather see the city be able to fund the new stations and be able to leave those open.’ They also tend to say ‘but I understand why you may need to relocate those.’”