The International Association of Firefighters will soon pass out flyers urging residents to contact city leaders in hopes of saving fire engine 6, while the city said it’s just a transfer of resources and won’t impact the safety of residents.
Engine 6 is located at the joint fire station on the east side of Wichita at N. 143rd Street and operated by both Sedgwick County and Wichita Fire Departments.
When the city approved its budget for 2019, it decided engine 6 would be put in reserve for the department due to an expiring grant.
“Engine six has been there for some time, but by grant money and that grant money expires at the end of the year,” said Stuart Bevis, fire marshal at the Wichita Fire Department.
The decision prompted the union to create flyers to urge residents to voice their opinions to city officials.
“Engine six way out east would go away and be replaced with a squad,” said Matt Schulte, president of the International Association of Firefighters.
The union worries that taking away the engine would impact the safety and property of nearby residents.
“Those are some very large homes and schools out there,” Schulte said. “There’s been talk that it only makes a few alarms a day, but if it’s your house on fire or your loved one that’s in cardiac arrest, you’ll want us to be there as quickly as possible and that’s why that engine is out there.”
The fire department said station 6 is the only city fire station that has more than one engine.
KSN took a look at the number of calls the station receives for its primary response area compared to other stations in the city with only one engine.
From October 15, 2017 to now, Station 6 has received 676 calls for both the county an city combined.
Station 21 received 542 called, one of the lowest in the city and Station 1 received 4,764 calls, one of the highest in the city.
Bevis said there are other stations just miles away that are adjacent to the coverage area and can respond to a major call, if needed.
“That’s what we look at as a department and as a city, how are we best able to move our resources around to serve the citizens,” Bevis said.
The firefighters’ union maintains that the decision could impact residents and plans to give out the flyers to residents living in neighborhoods within station 6’s coverage area in the coming weeks.
The flyers are also posted on the Wichita Firefighters Facebook page.
For a full map of fire station locations in Wichita, visit the Wichita Fire Department website.