Archive for Saturday, April 15, 2006

New station to improve emergency response

April 15, 2006


The 1980s are history. And now Lawrence firefighters have an additional fire station - the first since 1982 - to prove it.

Crews with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical began moving into their new $4.4 million station and administrative headquarters at 19th Street and Stewart Avenue on Friday. Firefighters and paramedics are expected to begin running calls out of the station late next week.

"We feel like we're going to have the best coverage of the community possible now," Fire Chief Mark Bradford said.

The new station is a major part of the department's strategy to meet a national fire safety guideline of responding to 90 percent of calls within six minutes of the time they are reported. Currently, the department meets the six-minute standard about 70 percent of the time. Bradford said the new station would push that percentage higher, although he said the 90 percent guideline still would be difficult to reach.

"Any improvement is important," Bradford said. "For every minute that someone is pulseless and not breathing, their chance of survival drops by 10 percent. And a fire grows by 10 percent for every minute it is not suppressed."

Grateful to KU

City leaders touted the new station's location, at the southeast corner of 19th and Iowa streets, as a great spot for a fire station.

"It is really almost an ideal location," said interim City Manager David Corliss. "You are right there on 19th and on Iowa, and you're not far from Bob Billings Parkway and Clinton Parkway."

The new station also will put fire crews across the street from one of the more densely populated portions of the city - the Kansas University dormitories on Daisy Hill. The KU Endowment Association donated the use of the four-acre site partially for that reason.

The Endowment Association also stipulated that the city move its Hazardous Material Unit to the new station, which will put it closer to KU's research laboratories. The Endowment Association also asked the department to move its 100-foot ladder truck from downtown to the new station so it would be close to the tall buildings on campus. The downtown fire station is getting a new fire engine with a 75-foot ladder.

"We're very grateful to the Endowment Association and to KU," Corliss said. "The facility has really been very much needed."

City leaders are planning an open house at the station this summer. Here's a look at some of the station's features:

¢ 8,000 square feet for the department's 14 administrative staff members, who had been stationed at the downtown fire station and two other fire stations in town. Bradford said the increased efficiency of having the administration team in one building was expected to be one of the new station's larger benefits.

¢ 28,000 square feet of fire station space. That makes the station the largest in the city, with about 8,000 square feet more than most stations in the city.

¢ four 100-foot-long garage bays that will house two fire trucks, an ambulance and other specialized equipment. The station will be staffed by a full-time crew of 11.

¢ 16 dormitories, men's and women's showers, a fully equipped fitness room, a kitchen and a living room area for the firefighters. The station was built with additional dormitories to accommodate growth.

Staffing increases

The city this year hired nine firefighters - at an annual cost of about $375,000 per year - to help staff the station. The additional staffing came from some consolidation, such as using two staff members on an ambulance instead of three.

The city also purchased a new $700,000 fire engine and has added about $100,000 a year in other operating expenses.

Costs for the station had been a concern during planning for the building. Douglas County commissioners - who pay 25 percent of the department's budget - originally balked when bids for the project came in about $500,000 higher than expected. County commissioners ultimately approved the higher cost, but on a 2-1 vote.

County Commissioner Jere McElhaney opposed moving forward on the project. He wanted the project to be redesigned, eliminating some of the elaborate roof lines, the size and other features of the project.

"It is pretty darn nice," McElhaney said Friday. "It is a good thing it was built with public money, because I don't think the private sector could match it."


lawrencechick 11 years, 11 months ago

I hope this will cut down on medics having to take fire trucks to calls. I still don't understand why this is necessary. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in NYC with the amount of sirens that go by everyday. The fire truck is especially noisy and if it's just a medical call can't they go in a smaller vehicle?

leavemealone 11 years, 11 months ago

If I was the fire department, I wouldn't be concerned with what a wife beater says.

mud_duck 11 years, 11 months ago

lawrencechick the fire trucks go as first responders, sometimes they can get there before the ambulance. when i worked in dispatch in texas we always had to tone out the fire department for a medical call

adky 11 years, 11 months ago

Why was the entrance on Stewart Ave. not Iowa? Seems like they waste 2 minutes a call getting onto the main street.

NotASquishHead 11 years, 11 months ago

I assume the entrance is off of Stewart Ave because it is too dangerous to pull in and out of an entrance on Iowa Street. The other issue is the large incline behind the new station.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 11 months ago

It's going to be a lot harder for First Management to have accidental fires.

anonimiss 11 years, 11 months ago

It is really nice, but I wonder how much taxpayer money could have been saved by making it look like a 'traditional' building, aka straight roofs, not as many windows, etc.

anonimiss 11 years, 11 months ago

It's also a shame that Doug got the contract to build it. He's already got more than he knows what to do with.

pity2bu 11 years, 11 months ago

They had to make it look like an Overland Park Kansas or Lees Summit Missouri Medical Building. These people here aren't smart enough to design anything else. THis is Medical Building 101 at its best . Lets put lots of windows in it so people can see that it is a fire / medical building. THis includes lots of glass to burn up natural gas or spin the electric meter in the winter and or summer. Just think, our utility bills can now be increased by the city, now that's a thinkin.

Just think the relocated buildings were suppose to decrease the number of minutes to a medical scene not increase it. He said the average time is 6 minutes. Thats way too long, it is actually suppose to be four minutes or less any where within the city. THis was suppose to be Lawrence Medical Time not Lees Summit Paramedic Time.

NFPA Standard 1710 requires minimum staffing and response times for fire departments. In most cases, it compels fire departments to respond to structure fires within four minutes, and it requires them to staff each piece of apparatus with four people.

Good luck if you are about to expire, you will not make it if you have to wait 6 minutes. Let me read you your last rights now.


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