photo by: Kim Callahan / Journal-World
An analysis of Lawrence’s fire and medical stations and response times identified a need to relocate one fire station and add two more, which could cost more than $ 25 million over the next few years. .
The City of Lawrence Commission received the optimization analysis from the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical station as part of its meeting on Tuesday. Fire Chief Shaun Coffey told the commission the study aimed to update a similar study conducted in 1996 and implemented over the next 10 years. This process resulted in the relocation of two stations and the addition of one station, Fire Station # 5. Coffey said the study has served the city well for several years, but recent analysis indicates more stations are needed as the city has grown.
“Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the state – with about 100,000 people, give or take – and we have five fire stations,” Coffey said.
For perspective, Coffey compared the number of stations in Lawrence to several of the state’s largest communities, including near Topeka, which he said has around 124,000 people and 12 fire stations. He also mentioned Shawnee, Lenexa, Manhattan, and Salina, each of which has significantly fewer residents than Lawrence. Shawnee and Salina each have four fire stations, Manhattan has five, and Lenexa has six.
The analysis used the travel times for each of Lawrence’s five stations to identify gaps in coverage, particularly areas where the travel time from a station was greater than the National Fire Protection Association’s four-minute standard. . This analysis also takes into account public health data, city of Lawrence planning data, local crime and fire data, and medical data, according to a note to the committee.
“The objective of this study is to identify opportunities to improve the ministry’s ability to deliver fair, reliable and predictable travel time performance in line with industry best practices,” the study summary states. .
The analysis identified three areas with travel times of more than four minutes: one in the northwestern part of the city, another in north-central Lawrence, and the third in the southern part of the city. The analysis recommends the simultaneous construction of two new stations, one in north-central Lawrence and the other in the northwest. After construction, the personnel and resources currently located at Fire Station No. 3, 3708 W. Sixth St., would be transferred to the North Central Station, and new employees and resources would be required for the Northwest Station. .
The projects in the northern part of the city would be carried out over the next four years. The project in the South Lawrence is recommended to start a few years later, in 2027.
Construction of the proposed Northwest Station and relocation of Station 3 would be estimated to cost $ 16.7 million over the next four years. Opening the northwest station would require 21 new employees and an additional $ 2.6 million for operating costs, which would require a contribution of $ 1.6 million from the city after the contribution from the county. The construction of a new south station is estimated at $ 10.2 million, and it is recommended that funding for this project be budgeted for in 2027, 2028 and 2029.
Regarding service to the south of Lawrence, Mayor Brad Finkeldei asked if it would be possible in the short term to consolidate services at the Douglas County Fire Station near 31st Street, such as placing an ambulance and a few employees at this station until another station was built to better serve the south of the city. Coffey said the department has an agreement to have an ambulance at a station in Eudora, and that co-locating certain services at that station is a possibility that could be explored.
Regarding next steps, Coffey said the ministry will see to implementing different aspects of the scan as part of its regular budget and capital improvement process. The city’s five-year capital improvement plan, which includes all capital projects over $ 100,000, is presented each summer as part of the annual budget process, and the commission votes to approve the capital plan. year by year as part of the budget.