Fire station staffing switch proposed in Cedar Falls - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire station staffing switch proposed in Cedar Falls

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

A flip-flop may be in the works when it comes to fire protection in Cedar Falls.

Cedar Falls' fire chief is proposing a swap when it comes to staffing 2 of the city's 3 fire stations.

Currently, Fire Station 2 on Lone Tree Road in the North Cedar neighborhood is always manned with 3 full-time firefighters.

Fire Station 3 at Main and Blue Bell Road is only staffed when the number of firefighters on duty allows.

Fire Chief John Schilling took his case before a meeting of the North Cedar Neighbor Association.

"This area has had a significant decrease in call volumes since the 2008 flood mainly because the population has decreased significantly and the population is increasing in the southern part of the city," Schilling said.

The switch would mean the station would largely go unstaffed, unless 10 full-time firefighters are on duty.

Neighbors say they feel safe knowing firefighters are nearby, but are aware of the factors working against them.

"I think it would hurt. It's a resource to the neighborhood by all means, but we have to, as a neighborhood in Cedar Falls, we have to look at the city as a whole as far as understanding budgets, etc. It's only fair if they think it's necessary that we hear them out," North Cedar Neighborhood Association ChairMark Miller said.

Schilling says response times would be a little longer but more in line with other neighborhoods.

"We are concerned about response times but they still meet our response time benchmarks. Again, we try to make it to a scene of an emergency within 4 minutes 90 percent of the time, 5 minutes 95 percent of the time, and 6 minutes 98% of the time. We can get to the northern part of North Cedar within 4:55 to 5:10," Schilling said.

He says the switch could provide North Cedar with a community room but using it as it stands now is a waste of manpower.

"I'm a strong believer in a fire station needs to be a part of the community but when you're looking at a significant difference between 41 calls in a year versus 300 calls, that's a concern to us," Schilling said.

The changes could go into effect early next year - unless 9 full-time firefighters are hired.

That would cost $850,000 and is not likely to happen.

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