KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – The Kansas City Fire Department celebrated the grand opening of its newest fire station Tuesday morning, and while the new station is a welcome addition for one area, it’s a bittersweet loss for another neighborhood.
The grand opening of Fire Station 15 provides fire coverage for Northland residents who were lacking service, KCFD officials claim, while also giving firefighters stationed here a healthier place to live and work.
The station comes with an $8.5 million price tag not including the land, which was donated.
Kathy Yantis lives a couple blocks away from the new fire station at Interstate 435 and Cookingham Drive and welcomes her new first-responder neighbors.
“I hadn’t really thought about the closest one, but I realized it was about 7 or 8 miles away,” Yantis said of prior fire coverage. “I thought it’d be better to have one closer to our house.”
The growing Northland fire district struggled with fire response times, averaging between 17 and 19 minutes, a fact city that leaders knew had to change.
“We were stretching our other resources and they were trying to come up here to fight fires and help with ambulance needs,” Councilwoman Heather Hall explained. “But then they were then leaving holes in the center part of the city, and that’s just not okay.”
The new state-of-the-art facility makes for shorter response times and a reduction in insurance rates for people who live in the first district.
The new facility was also important to protect the firefighters working in it, according to firefighters union president Tim Dupin.
“The key of my job is to make sure the men and women I represent are safe when they come to work every day,” Dupin said. “The men and women come in every day to work their job to protect the citizens and commit to the service of you and our community. It is important that we know that they need to be protected as well.
Station 15 was built with the idea of reducing the risk of cancer, which is top of mind in the department since officials are seeing an uptick cases in firefighters.
“Firefighters can rinse off, do a decon before they go in,” KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said. “We also have gear extractors, special gear washers that extract toxins from our gear. We even went as far as adding a sauna in the workout room.”
As this long-awaited fire station opens, Station 40, located about 14 miles away, is temporarily closed.
That closure has some residents living near the old station wondering how services they depend on will be affected.
The fire department is trying to figure out what to do with Station 40, which has septic issues. They’ve added an ambulance in that area and nearby stations are expected to help with fire calls.