WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita City Council 7-0 to approve money for another new fire station in Wichita. It is part of a 10-year plan to add up to nine new fire stations in Wichita.
In July, the city approved $1 million for land acquisition and design for the first new station.
One of the stations will be in southwest Wichita, and one will be in northwest Wichita.
“The northwest part of Wichita and the southwest part of Wichita both are growing rapidly, and there’s not enough fire stations for that coverage area,” Council member Bryan Frye said. “And so that’s what this is realized is that when you do a better job of responding, we need more resources out there. So that’s why those two are next in the queue. There are so mu ch more housing units, much more construction in both northwest and southwest. We’ve seen growth in apartment units, single-family residential, duplex, business, and these are the fastest-growing parts of Wichita. And so when that happens, you need to have resources to be able to keep them safe.”
Fire Chief Tammy Snow told the council they are looking at Pawnee and Maize and 29th and Ridge area for expansion.
There are still seven locations to identify over the next 10 years that will be based on quantitative analysis.
“It’s all designed around response times and other programs that we’re developing to make sure that our fire departments are strategically located to get to the emergencies in the quickest manner,” Frye said.
Right now, there are 23 stations in Wichita.
Ted Bush is the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 135. He says the city is down 11 fire stations, and a new once hasn’t been built since 2009. Bush says Fire Station 23 is set to be closed once the bridge is finished.
“We were hoping to possibly keep it open for a little bit longer to get some data. We believe a fire station needs to be in that area, and the data has shown that it’s very important to have a fire station in that area,” Bush said. “Unfortunately, city staff has decided to get rid of it.”
He says fire department health is about response times, and the National Fire Protection Association suggests there should only be four minutes of travel time.
“If that’s our goal for every unit in Wichita, we are woefully outside of that,” Bush said. “If we had a grade, we’d be an F right now. That’s what we have to start working on, and there’s only one way to do that, more firemen and more fire stations throughout the city so we can have some resiliency within the city to cover everything we need.”