OPINION

Vote 'yes' for needed fire protection improvements

The Examiner

Laura Dominik, Independence 

To the editor:

I hope you will join me in supporting the Independence Fire Department by voting YES on Question 1 on Tuesday. The additional money generated by this sales tax will fund many things including: 

• Two stations need immediate replacement. Station 8 was built in 1964 so the ceiling is too low to house modern larger trucks. There’s only one bunkroom and one bathroom, which is not conducive to co-ed housing of firefighters. Station 5 was built in 1980 on a spring, leading to settling problems with the station and the driveway.  

• Stations 6, 9, and 10 also need replacing. They were built 30-plus years ago with wood-frame construction on residential foundations so they cannot support the weight of today’s larger apparatus.  

• IFD has had ten stations since 1987; however, the call volume has increased 248% since 1992 and staffing has decreased 7%. A new fire station would allow the increased call volume to be spread out over more crews to balance the load and decrease response times.  

• The burn tower was built in 2001 without the classroom facilities, indoor training area, and restrooms that were in the original design. Firefighter and civilian lives depend on the hands-on skills firefighters bring to the scene so having adequate hands-on training facilities is critical.  

The cost to build a new fire station is over $550 per square foot (up from $175 in 2005). With an average of 10,000 square feet per station, the cost of replacing just the five stations discussed above is approximately $27.5 million. The city’s general fund does not have the money to fund these replacements nor the many other expenses to improve the fleet, hire more firefighters, etc. so saying YES on Question 1 on Tuesday is imperative if we want to continue to expect the high level of service we currently receive from the Independence Fire Department.