COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Fire Department officials said on Tuesday that a new fire station is in the works for southwest Columbia to help services get to the community faster.
Columbia Fire Department Assistant Chief Brad Fraizer said since 2009 Columbia Fire has had nine fire stations, but now the department hopes to have a new station in about a year.
He said in that 11-year time period the population in Columbia has continued to grow, which has caused the department's resources and calls for service to be spread out pretty thin.
"As a community has spread out we've identified a need for additional stations to keep up with that growth," Fraizer said. "One is in the southwest part of the community once in the east part of the community, but specifically in the southwest part of community."
Fraizer said the department conducted research that has shown the new station could have a positive impact on about 186 calls and will help bring the department's travel time down in the southwest area.
"When we get fire stations spread out farther," Fraizer said. "With that increased number of calls, it brings that time it takes for us to get to that (call) down and that's really what this is all about."
Fraizer said the city boundary has grown in the southwest direction of town, but the fire stations haven't moved with that growth. So with this new location, a fire station will be where that growth in the community is.
Matt Pitzer, Columbia Ward 5 Councilman, said he is very happy that the fire station project is moving forward. He said it's going to be a great benefit to a lot of people in his ward as it will enable a quicker response to fire and medical emergencies.
Pitzer said this is something he had been pushing for a number of years as there is a lot of southwest Columbia, that is no longer within close distance of fire station.
Pitzer said the fire department has a four-minute target where they try to reach any address within four minutes.
"If you look at a lot of my ward," Pitzer said. "There's a lot that's outside of that four minute window. So this is... going to greatly help in terms of being able to respond to incidents and so it's gonna provide significant safety benefits to a lot of people."
Benny Alvarez, a southwest Columbia resident, said he thinks the new fire station location is a great idea.
"In case of an emergency that's great," Alvarez said. "It's always good to have them here to take care of us quicker."
Fraizer said the process of establishing where a new fire station would go in that area has taken some time as there are many decisions that go into an ideal location.
Fraizer said looking at things like traffic in the immediate area, not at the bottom of a hill, just over the crest or a terrain and finding available land is sometimes hard and takes time.
"It's also finding available land in a spot that's not only in a good geographic area as far as typography, but also in an area is going to have the best impact on calls for service," Fraizer said.
Fraizer said the next step of the new location are a few administrative things and then the department will start the process of meeting with architects and getting details finalized.
"We're through the phase of getting the land of acquiring land," Fraizer said. "And so we began the process of all the design meeting with design professionals, architects, and others to get that to get that going."