By Natasha Vyhovsky
The Shawnee City Council on Monday approved the acquisition of 1.66 acres of land at 53rd Street and Woodsonia Drive for $150,000 for the purposes of building new fire station. With the approval of the land acquisition, the council also approved the hiring of 12 firefighters to help staff Fire Station No. 74.
Proposals for the new station began last July due to a comprehensive station location study done by the Fire Department, which found response times in northwest Shawnee exceeded the national standard of four minutes travel time.
The response times, which have increased by 28 percent in the last four years, are now averaging four to four and a half minutes, with the areas around the incoming station showing around eight to nine minute response times, according to Fire Chief John Mattox.
The fire department and the city evaluated several sites to pick one that would best reduce response times, a summary which was presented at a public meeting back in May. The Department will work to evaluate architectural firms in the next month, with the hope to move into the finished station by next fall.
Mattox said the new station will improve response times to about 20,000 residents, with improved response times ranging from one minute to five minutes for some.
“This will make drastic improvements out in northwestern Shawnee,” Mattox said.
The department has already hired six of the 12 firefighters to start training, with plans to hire the rest beginning next year. Five of the new-hires do not have previous experience, so once the station is running, the Department will decide which of the new and existing firefighters will move to station No. 74.
Construction and staffing for the station were included in budget plans when the mill levy rate increased 2.072 mills last year. The estimated project expenditure totals $3,625,000 across 2017 and 2018, which the city will undertake in debt until funds are available from the budget.