City requests ‘urgent action’ to build EV charging stations for new fire trucks

photo by: Mike Yoder

After returning from a call, Lawrence Douglas-County Fire Medical personnel park Engine 1 in renovated station bays at Fire Station No. 1, 746 Kentucky St., Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. The bays have a new concrete floor and new bay doors that fold open rather than rise up.

Urgent action is needed to build electric vehicle charging areas at two Lawrence fire stations that are slated to get two new electric fire trucks later this year, according to the Municipal Services and Operations division of the City of Lawrence.

City commissioners on at their regular Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving a request that will allow the city to move ahead with the electric vehicle charging project without going through the city’s standard bidding process.

The City Commission in December approved two new hybrid electric apparatuses — the term firefighters use for their big equipment — for $1.98 million from Pierce Manufacturing. But in a recent memo to commissioners, MSO employees said that the two fire stations where the new trucks will be delivered to this fall are unequipped for the electrical load and lack charging stations for the new trucks.

“Urgent action is necessary to ensure EV charging infrastructure is designed and installed as soon as possible,” the memo states.

Because of this, the MSO suggested that the commission authorize City Manager Craig Owens to immediately negotiate directly with Schneider Electric Buildings Americas Inc. instead of soliciting bids from multiple companies.

According to the memo, a traditional project development would result in construction starting in late 2025. By using the alternative delivery approach, MSO staff said construction on the new charging stations could start by the end of 2024.

A city ordinance states that the commission may authorize the city manager to use an alternative project delivery method upon a finding that such a change is in the public interest.

The cost for upgrading the electrical load at the stations and putting in the charging stations is estimated to exceed $100,000. A more precise estimate wasn’t provided in the memo. According to the memo, the city plans to locate the new fire engines at Station No. 1, which is located at 746 Kentucky in downtown Lawrence, and Fire Station No. 4 at 2121 Wakarusa Drive in west Lawrence.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:

• The commission will hear a request from Manhattan-based Bison Development LLC on giving an Industrial Revenue Bond sales tax exemption for the construction of 250-units of affordable housing at 3100 Michigan St. Commissioners are being asked to forward the project to the city’s Public Incentives Review Committee (PIRC) for a recommendation.

• The Commission will hear a presentation from the non-profit Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center about the operations of its Homeless Outreach Team. The City awarded the BNC $573,141 in 2023, and the center will provide an update about the work done through this program.

• The Commission will also receive a presentation during a work session with an update on the Land Development Code, which the city is significantly rewriting to allow for a different style of development in the city.

Commissioners will meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth Street. The meeting also can be watched via the city’s YouTube channel.


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