Heated Blue Springs residents hopeful for break from township fire protection

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- The fight to change fire services in south Blue Springs is heating up after some residents have asked to be moved to another fire district much closer to their homes.

Dozens of people packed a room at the Prairie Township Fire Protection District fire station on Wednesday night, where a group known as the South Blue Springs Citizens for Emergency Services handed over 697 petitions requesting to be de-annexed from Prairie Township’s district.

The Prairie Township fire station is located in Lee’s Summit, six miles from nearly 1,000 homes in South Blue Springs it services. Some residents would rather be served by several fire stations in the Central Jackson County Fire District, which are just two miles away.

“It is an area that needs to be served in close proximity to fire and EMS and quite simply, geographically, you are a long way away,” Steven Mauer, the group’s attorney, told board members of the Prairie Township Fire Protection District.

Mauer presented the petition, then explained an alternative should the board decide not to give the people want they want.

“By Missouri statute, if you all don’t act or you refuse to let these citizens go, they have the right to request an election on that issue,” Mauer told the board. “And the issue has already been presented in a referendum and the referendum has been approved by the Jackson County Election Board.”

“As we understand the law,” he continued, “this is mandatory. If you don’t let the people go, we will give you the referendums and it’s not optional. The people get to vote. This is America. It’s what we do.”

Board members voted to go into closed session, and Prairie Township Fire Chief wouldn't comment.

But community members like Vada Bryant, whose home was ruled a total loss because of a fire in 2004 that she said took Prairie Township firefighters 20 minutes to respond to, are hopeful for change.

“We don't have anything against the Prairie fire department,” she said. “It's just they're too far away, and it's not fair that part of the citizens of Blue Springs are allowed first class service and we aren't… Just because back in the '50s a line was drawn down the street.”

The people in attendance asked the board for a public hearing on the issue at their next meeting in March. If the board decides against it, then Mauer said it will go as a referendum on the ballot and South Blue Springs residents will get to vote on it during the election in August.

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