Consultant: City needs 3 more fire stations

A consultant has recommended that Grand Junction build three new fire stations in the north and southeast to keep up with growth and relieve pressure on existing fire stations, a couple of which are busier than those in some of the largest cities in the U.S.

The stations could be located near Interstate 70 and 24 1/2 Road, 26 1/2 and G 1/2 roads and 29 and D roads, according to a four-month study conducted by Emergency Services Consulting Inc. As an alternate to the
26 1/2 and G 1/2 roads location, the Fire Department is talking with Grand Junction Regional Airport administrators about the possibility of building a station at the airport.

Fire Department officials, who presented the results of the study to the City Council on Monday, hired the consultant to analyze the workload of the current five fire stations and identify gaps in service and response times.

Fire Chief Ken Watkins said the department’s average response time on fire calls has jumped nearly a full minute — from 6 minutes, 24 seconds to 7 minutes, 20 seconds — between 2007 and June of this year. During that same period, the average response time on emergency medical service calls increased 23 seconds, from 4 minutes, 57 seconds to 5 minutes, 20 seconds.

The north area of Grand Junction along Interstate 70, the areas around Horizon Drive and the airport, and Pear Park “are areas where we have concerns,” Operations Chief Jim Bright said.

Bright said officials are worried about the demand on Fire Stations No. 1 and 2, which are at Sixth Street and Pitkin Avenue and 28 1/4 and Patterson roads, respectively.

Of the more than 12,400 calls for service the Fire Department responded to last year, Fire Station No. 2 responded to 4,335 calls, while Fire Station No. 1 responded to 3,946 calls.

In a perfect world, Bright said, a station would respond to 2,500 to 3,000 calls a year, a number that would keep them busy but would not be unmanageable.

Firehouse Magazine recently came out with its annual survey that ranked the busiest fire departments in the country. Of the 260 departments that reported data from last year, Grand Junction’s Fire Station No. 1 had the 14th busiest ladder company in the U.S., ranking just behind a ladder company in Los Angeles, Bright said.

Fire Station No. 2 had the 45th busiest ladder company, ranking ahead of ladder companies in large cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and St. Louis.

“We just are responding to a given number of calls with fewer resources,” Watkins said.

The three fire stations are included in the $98 million public safety initiative pitched by city officials. City residents will vote in November whether to fund those projects with a quarter-cent sales-tax increase.

The city paid Emergency Services Consulting nearly $10,000 for the study.


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