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Fire Station Upgrades Unveiled

One of Columbia Fire Department’s oldest fire stations officially re-opened Thursday, after a $1.45 million dollar upgrade. The money was paid for by the University of Missouri, which owns Fire Station 3 on the Mizzou campus, and has paid for it since it was erected in 1966.For nearly 50 years, the facility on Ashland Road near East Campus has not changed much except for minor renovations in the 1990s. The aging facility has seen maintenance issues and cramped living quarters for firefighters. The improvements include a new driveway so firefighters no longer have to back in the fire trucks and new living quarters for the firefighters, a spacious open kitchen and a living room decked out with Tiger stripes on the wall. Columbia City Mayor Bob McDavid said the on-going partnership between the university and the city has helped a lot, especially in times where the department is so short on money. He said that per 1,000 people living in Columbia, there used to be 1.44 firefighter(s), the staffing level has gone down to 1.22 firefighter(s) per 1,000 people.The Columbia Fire Department has also found ways to add staff without using the city’s budget, by applying for a federal assistance grant. “We recently found out we were awarded that grant and that’s going to give us additional five firefighter’s we’ve needed for some time,” said Columbia Fire Department’s spokesperson, Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer. He said the $658,120 grant from SAFER (staffing for adequate fire and emergency response) through the U.S. Homeland Security would help the department provide better services for the community. “That would in turn allow us to provide faster response for the community and it has a positive impact on firefighters safety and public safety, ” said Fraizer. The money is pending city council approval to pay for the salaries and benefits for five new firefighters for two years beginning March, 2013. ABC 17 News asked Mayor McDavid if the grant will likely be approved, and he said it will most likely, adding that the city will find ways to fund the firefighters after the two-year funding runs out.

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