Shawnee Fire Department continues the discussion of a needed fire station in east Shawnee
Shawnee Fire's John B. Glaser Fire Station was built 40 years ago to house volunteers.
Photo credit: Tyler Silvest. Used under a Creative Commons license.
The city of Shawnee is asking voters to approve a $38 million bond issue to build and operate a new community center in western Shawnee.
This week we're featuring a few of the unmet needs of the Shawnee Fire Department. Members of the city council have pushed these critical issues to the side while they have touted the $54 million (with interest) community center in western Shawnee. The 'Vote No There's A Better Way' committee believes these unmet needs must be addressed before the city should even think about a want like a community center.
In January 2018, the Shawnee Fire Department invited the governing body and the public to tour the John B. Glaser Fire Station at 6501 Quivira Road. The station is also known as ‘Station 71’.
The station opened in 1979, at a time when the department employed three firefighters, and the city only covered about 26 square miles with a population of less than 28,000. The rest of the department’s personnel were volunteers who only responded to the station when there was a call for service. The building was intended to store the department’s vehicles, equipment, and minimal staff.
Today, the Shawnee Fire Department employs nearly 70 career firefighters across three-shifts and four fire stations. The John B. Glaser Fire Station is the oldest of the four, and the department says the building no longer meets their needs. The city of Shawnee covers 42 square miles with a population of around 65,000.
Station 71 is the only station in Shawnee with two fire trucks staffed at all times with at least three firefighters. The other three stations in the city each have one fire truck staffed. Based on call-volume, the station has been among the busiest fire stations in the state of Kansas over the last five years. It also houses the second busiest Johnson County Med-Act ambulance in the county.
The 40-year-old station is also department headquarters. The Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Emergency Services Chief, Fire Marshal, two fire investigators, and an administrative assistant all have offices in the building.
During the January 2018 tour with the governing body, Fire Chief John Mattox spoke about the high call volume the station sees.
“The eastern part of town faces a growing number of calls because it has the highest density of multi-family apartment complexes, a higher density of commercial and residential units and also a large percentage of senior citizens living in the area,” the Shawnee Dispatch reported.
For the last several years of budget hearings, Fire Chief Mattox has expressed the need to reassess fire department services on the east side of the city to improve the department’s response times and building concerns.
The department has suggested several options to the council but has not received funding to pursue any of them.
Renovate or demolish/rebuild the current facility.
Create a squad house to reduce response times for emergency medical calls without the need for a large fire truck and a full fire crew.
Reconfigure Station 71 for a single fire crew and add another single crew station in the northeastern part of the city.
The Shawnee Dispatch quoted the remarks of several council members following the tour;
Ward 3 councilmember Stephanie Meyer is quoted as calling the tour “eye-opening,” and saying; “It’s pretty clear this is something the council needs to act on soon,” Meyer told fire officials. “You guys have a top-notch team, and this facility is not acceptable.”
Ward 1 councilmember Jim Neighbor told the Dispatch, “We need to do it and figure out how to do this efficiently,” he said. “I like the idea of making this station’s footprint smaller and building a new station in the northeast.”
Shawnee Dispatch: Shawnee fire officials spark discussion of needed improvements, potential new fire station. http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2018/jan/23/shawnee-fire-officials-spark-discussion-needed-imp/
Shawnee Fire Department 2017 annual report (latest available): https://cityofshawnee.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_8941388/File/Departments%20&%20Services/Fire/About%20Us/Year%20End%20Report/Fire_web_17.pdf
Shawnee Fire Department history: https://cityofshawnee.org/Departments/Fire/About_Us/History