KCFD pumper reductions loom as federal grant set to expire - KCTV5

KCFD pumper reductions loom as federal grant set to expire

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One of the two pumpers that will be pulled off the streets on June 30 is No. 32, which is housed on West 43rd Street on the edge of the Westport-Plaza neighborhoods. One of the two pumpers that will be pulled off the streets on June 30 is No. 32, which is housed on West 43rd Street on the edge of the Westport-Plaza neighborhoods.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

An expiring federal grant will end funding that Kansas City has used for two years to keep fire pumpers on the streets.

International Association of Firefighters Local 42, the union that represents area firefighters, wants the city to find additional funding or even possible federal grants to help pick up the costs.

"This isn't about jobs, it's about public safety," Local 42 President Michael Cambiano said. "It's about the citizens of Westport, Plaza and Brookside having an adequate response to an emergency."

Cambiano has a new fight on his hands to try and save two pumpers from the chopping block.

One of the two pumpers that will be pulled off the streets on June 30 is No. 32, which is housed on West 43rd Street on the edge of the Westport-Plaza neighborhoods.

The crew that runs the rig will be will be reassigned to other stations in the city.

"This station (No.19) protects the most densely populated area of Kansas City," Cambiano said.

Cambiano said cutting pumpers is not what the city needs.

A new study released to KCTV5 News from research done by IAFF says Kansas City staffing and deployment is "insufficient and not in compliance with industry standards."

The union says the additional trucks that will be forced to cover pumper 32's district will have to pick up more than 2,200 calls a year, with some traveling more than 10 minutes away into the Westport, Plaza, Brookside neighborhoods.

The city's emergency operations bureau data shows that 85 percent of fire calls are currently handled in less than six minutes.

"There are some adjustments being made, but we don't think it's going to affect public safety at all," city spokesman Chris Hernandez said.

The city manager's office, which oversees the fire department, has "full confidence" with the fire department's plan to handle deploying other crews to pick up the extra calls left with the departing pumpers.

The 2012 collective bargaining agreement between Local 42 and Kansas City calls for the closing of pumper companies' No. 32 and No.1, which is south of Highway 150 on the Richards-Gebaur property.

"We were fortunate to extend for a couple of years, but we are where we are today," Hernandez said.

The city used more than $4.5 million from a United States Homeland Security FEMA grant to help cover the department's costs. The federal government sequester last year delayed the application process for the city to possibly apply for the funds again.

It is unclear if the city, once the process opens, will apply for a grant to help the fire department.

KCTV5 has learned if they do get the money they won't use it to pay for firefighters like in previous years.

"The commitment we've made going forward, is a much better practice to apply for grants that will help with technology and infrastructure and equipment and not personnel," Hernandez said.

Cambiano feels the city does have additional resources to help cover the loss of the funding until a future grant is secured.

The union estimates it could be around $700,000 to cover the pumper companies until the federal grants are awarded.

"Knowing they (City Council) can move money to build emergency soccer fields, they can move money on an emergency street car study, come up with all the funds in the world to look at rebuilding our airport, it's frustrating for us," Cambiano said.

Kansas City resident Carolyn Knapp doesn't like the idea that there will be less trucks protecting the city but understands money can be tight in municipal governments after the economic downfall of a few years ago.

"It's kind of scary for sure," she said. "Every city has politics, as far as they spend their money."

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