On Monday evening, the “ayes” had it as the Shawnee City Council took a step forward for both its fire department and city residents. A year after financing was approved for the Fire Station No. 74 project, council members voted passed a motion to purchase the land for the city’s newest fire station.
“Now that we have the land, this is a huge step forward,” said John Mattox, Shawnee fire chief and one of the project’s most fervent advocates. “We are currently discussing the station with architects and now they have something to work with.”
The 1.66 acre tract is located at the southwest corner of 53rd and Woodsonia in the northwest area of the city. It will serve Shawnee’s growing population and the fire department’s increasing call load. This call load has increased at the same rate every year for the last 10 years, and will surpass 6,000 calls for service in 2017. With the increased call load has come increased response times and these will be reduced once the new station is in operation, says Mattox.
Over the last two years, Mattox and other fire department staff have studied and identified the area that would be most advantageous for increased fire services, based on current needs and those anticipated in the future. At its location in northwest Shawnee, Fire Station 74 will accommodate a four-man fire crew and one fire engine, with plans for a reserve apparatus in the future. As of this summer, the fire department has hired and is currently training six of the 12 firefighters who will man the new station during its three shifts. Six additional firefighters will be hired after the first of the year. In addition, the department has also promoted three firefighters to fill the role of captain for each crew.
“All of the firefighters are very excited,” Mattox said. “We’d love to break ground in late fall or early winter — and the sooner the better.
“That may be overly optimistic but I’m an eternal optimist.”
Plans are to complete the new facility by the end of 2018, “even if we get a snowmageddon this winter,” Mattox said.
Also during the Public Items segment of Monday’s meeting, Shawnee resident Andy Hurla presented a proposal to council members for the Shawnee community pool. Hurla proposed the council consider commissioning new sea-life themed artwork by local artists to add to the pool’s existing artwork.
“We welcome residents who want to present ideas at council meetings that are not already listed in the public items agenda,” says Julie Breithaupt, Shawnee communications manager. “We provide them feedback and get them in touch with a city department who can work with them on their proposals.”