The Central Jackson County Fire Protection District will ask voters on Feb. 4 to approve a $7.5 million bond issue, which would be used for building and equipment improvements.

The fistrict includes most of Blue Springs and Grain Valley, Lake Tapawingo and some unincorporated areas of Jackson County. The fire district's bonding capacity is about $18 million, so this bond issue would be less than half the maximum firefighters could seek in bonds. The bond issue would not raise taxes.

The fire district last asked voters to approve a bond issue in 2016, when it sought $4 million. Only one bond from that series and one bond from a 2012 series remain to be paid off, Chief Jeff Grote said.

“Our bonds are on a 20-year cycle, but we often pay them down early,” Grote said. “Financially, we're in great shape.”

At the same time, though, “We don't want to get more (in bonds) than we need,” he said. “We've been good stewards.”

Bond funds will be used for renovating and furnishing all facilities and buyng two new fire pumper trucks and one ladder truck, upgrading communication systems and technology and buying personal protective equipment other firefighting and EMS equipment. Bond funds can't be used directly for personnel costs.

A new ladder truck costs about $1.5 million, Assistant Chief Chip Portz said, while pumper trucks are about half that. They will replace front-line vehicles that are 10 to 12 years old and will then become reserve vehicles, in turn replacing current reserves that are more than 20 years old, Portz and Grote explained.

“It's a goal, not something etched in stone,” Grote said of the district's goal to have vehicles go 10 years on the front line and then 10 in reserve before they're replaced.

CJC also aims to replace its 34 storm warning sirens.

“As it stands now, when you set them off for testing, to make sure they work we have to have someone on hand,” Portz said. New sirens could be controlled by computer.

Slated building improvements include new HVAC systems, and CJC also plans to replace about $200,000 worth of EMS equipment.