Kansas City, Kansas, firefighters fear potential closure of stations

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The budget battle continues between KCK leaders and the city's fire department.

Firefighters are concerned Mayor Mark Holland could close four fire stations per the recommendation of a 2015 study the city commissioned.

Their fears stem from the fact he has already implemented some of the study's suggestions. 

"This is very real. This is a public safety issue," Robert Wing, a KCK fire captain and business manager of I.A.F.F. Local 64 said of the potential closures.

Wing and other union members picketed outside city hall on Thursday with signs that read, "They're burning us now. Are you next?"

Mayor Mark Holland addressed concerns at a press conference Thursday afternoon, calling the union's claims false.

He acknowledged that he had discussed the 2015 study, but Holland said he has no plans to close any fire stations in the city.

Holland also pointed out that union members are involved in a city task force currently meeting to draft recommendations for the fire department. 

"I don't think you can make decisions about public safety based on a knee-jerk basis. You have to be logical and thoughtful, and you have to do a process that involves the union, that involves the administration and the public," Holland said. 

That task force is supposed to present its findings before the end of the year.

 

A city-commissioned report from 2015 suggested closing four fire stations surrounding downtown, one of the most densely-populated parts of the city.

It also advocated for the opening of two new fire stations on the western edges of KCK, citing continued development in that direction.

Two of the stations recommended for closure are in Commissioner Ann Murguia's district.

"It makes absolutely no sense when my district is growing by leaps and bounds with Rosedale and Argentine, that we would do any closures there," she said.

41 Action News obtained exclusive documents that show the stations potentially left on the cutting room floor are currently some of the busiest. The map highlights where most of the fire calls are concentrated and shows clusters in the north and south, right where the study proposes closing stations.

"You don't take from the core and just shift it west because the population shifted west," Wing said of the study.

41 Action News also obtained a third party study from 2012, which actually showed a need to add four more stations, not take them away. 

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