KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Dozens of Kansas City, Kansas firefighters took to the streets in protest on Friday, demanding that city officials reopen the Fairfax fire station that was closed. They blame Mayor David Alvey for going back on his campaign promise not to close any stations.
“We felt like we’ve exhausted all of our options internally,” International Association of Firefighters Local #64 President J.J. Simma said.
Firefighters in KCK say that the closing of the Fairfax station and other staffing decisions have increased response times and made it more difficult to their jobs. Simma said he hopes their action draws awareness.
KCKFD Chief Michael Callahan disputed that the station was closed, saying that the department had to relocate resources.
“Well I don’t know of any fire stations that are closing. Additionally, we have the exact same number of fire apparatus that we had last year, and the year before, so nothing has been taken out of service,” he said.
Protestors hopes that public pressure will cause officials to reconsider their decisions.
“And hopefully this will get some movement towards fixing the problem,” Simma said.
Simma says current changes are causing residents to see wait times over 15 minutes.
Officials responded with this statement:
In July of 2020, the Unified Government Commission voted to relocate a fire company from Fairfax to the new station in Piper, which now serves over 2,000 new rooftops. The Commission committed to monitoring the response time data to determine whether additional service territory adjustments would be needed.
The Commission is further committed to investing significant resources in building new fire stations and remodeling existing stations in order to improve living conditions for our firefighters. There are no plans to close any additional fire stations, and the Department has been recently awarded a SAFER Grant to hire 18 new firefighters.
If there is a lack of equipment at the new Station 12, the Unified Government is not aware. Any IAFF 64 concerns are to be brought through the Safety and Equipment Committee.”Unified Government statement