KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cutbacks at the Kansas City Fire Department are set to take effect June 30. Two fire companies will be pulled out of service. One in southern Kansas City, the other services an area stretching from the Country Club Plaza to Brookside.
The city says no one will be affected because they have a plan to cover the companies that will be eliminated. Residents and some city council members don`t agree and think the city needs to find the money to keep these companies up and running.
“What we tried to do is find the least painful way to make reductions in the overall size of the fire department to meet the budget realities,” Kansas City, Mo. City Manager Troy Schulte.
The reductions come by way of wiping out two fire companies. One is Pumper 32 that serves the Plaza down the Ward Parkway corridor to Brookside.
“We’ve got historic homes, homes that have been here for hundreds of years and if anything were to happen, they are more likely to burn down quickly as opposed to newer, more modern homes. So I don`t know why the city would cut costs there,” said neighborhood resident Jonathan Fortney. “The city has other places they could afford to take the money out of.”
City records show Pumper 32 ran over 2,100 calls in 2013. Come June 30, other companies will have to pick up their slack. The other closure is at Firehouse # 1.
“That’s the only fire station we have to cover the 150 Highway corridor,” said John Sharp, Chairman of Kansas City’s Public Safety Commission.
That particular corridor is not heavily populated, but the Honeywell National Nuclear Administration Facility, the Department of Agriculture and the KC Southern Intermodal Facility have campuses in that area. They account for over 4,000 employees.
“When you attract these businesses, you have to provide them basic services like fire protection, like emergency medical care,” said Sharp.
The closest backup to the soon to be closed firehouse is in Martin City. When Firehouse #1 closes, Kansas City will have to rely on other cities like Grandview for assistance.
“They’ll fill in for us on the southern portion of our city as we do in the northern portion of their city,” said KCFD Chief Paul Berardi.
These companies have been on the chopping block for a few years, but federal grants have kept them functional.