Kansas City's new fire chief promises to improve communication, monitor overtime pay

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- For the first time as the city’s top firefighter, Kansas City, Mo. Fire Chief Gary Reese faced Kansas City council members to talk about his department. 

"We're averaging, I don't know if we've looked at it this way, about 10 calls an hour every day," Reese said.

Reese said KCFD responded to 130,000 calls last year, with nearly 90 percent of calls medically-related.

On average, crews respond to at least three fires a day. 

"We're not any different than any other city of our size," Reese said.

Just more than a month into his new role, Reese shared his vision for the department with 41 Action News.

In the long term, he hopes to improve communication internally and across agencies. 

"Using our technology with the sweat, blood, and tears that you find out on the streets in the most efficient way to get people taken care of and also take care of our own people," Reese said.

He also wants KCFD to be a key player within the smart-city initiative.  

"We're getting on the page of having one or two vendors for all our technology from reporting, to dispatching, to GPS," Reese said.

In the short-term, he's focused on tackling the issue with overtime pay.

In 2017, the department spent more than $16 million on overtime pay, more than double what was budgeted. 

Ultimately, Reese is confident he'll be able to curb overtime pay. 

This year, KCFD is studying better ways to deploy resources.

Reese says he’s also looking to increase revenue streams to "provide the coverage that the city deserves.”

One way is through a bill in Jefferson City that would allow KCFD to collect federal money for the EMS transports they provide.

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