NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KWWL) — The North Liberty Fire Department is restructuring and remodeling their fire station to keep up with calls for service in its rapidly-growing community.
When firefighters get the call, it’s all hands on deck ASAP. For a volunteer department, ‘ASAP’ could mean minutes longer than they’d want, as volunteers get to the station.
“We had 52 fires last year but that certainly pales in comparison to over 600 medical calls in the fire district last year,” said Fire Chief, Brian Platz.
The upgraded facilities will help quicken response times, while attracting more new recruits.
“Call volume continues to increase, town continues to spread out, more traffic control lights, and the like. Having a volunteer fire department, an all-volunteer fire department, and expecting those volunteers to make it out quickly back to their department can prove very difficult and very timely,” said Platz.
The demolition has begun to make way for new sleeping quarters, explained Training Captain, Jonathan Lundquist. The new bunk area will allow the department to have new, part-time firefighters stay overnight, while the upgraded break rooms will be more inviting to entice volunteers.
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“This will be an area for people to kind of hang out. We definitely want to promote volunteers to kind of hang out here because that reduces our response time,” said Lundquist.
Right now the only showers are in the men’s room. With more women recruits are coming in, there will soon be a space for them, too.
“Whenever we go out the door, there is potential for exposure. Not only that, but once we start putting people in the station in a living capacity, we have to allow them to be able to shower,” said Platz.
The department is analyzing their calls for service data to look at how they’ll staff the 8 soon-to-be part-time firefighters. That way, there is more permanent staffing at the station during the busiest times.
“We’re looking at when our call volume takes place, when our busiest days are, when our busiest nights are. Also then comparing that with, when does it take the longest to get firefighters back to the station,” said Platz.
In 2018, The North Liberty Fire Department responded to 1300 calls.
The department is working to have the improvements done around March.
CLICK HERE for more information on how to become a volunteer firefighter in North Liberty. And for information on volunteering in your area, contact your local department or check their website.