Ride along with Springfield's fire department shows need for more resources

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. As Springfield continues to grow, so does the need for more emergency services.

Upgrades to some stations around town, as well as new ones, are being planned.

"We're in the risk management business. We're an all hazards response agency. Unless you need a police officer you're getting the fire department," said Chief David Pennington.

About 43 percent of all the calls fire fighters go to are medical emergencies.

"There are always time when we need an extra unit that can respond and just more personnel on scene," said Lieutenant Jeff Martin.

A fire crew of three, four officers and a pair of EMTs responded to a call for medical help. Those resources were diverted away from other emergencies, like house fires or car accidents.

"Fortunately on this one we were close by. But it would definitely help with more resources in this area," said Martin.

It's why a fire station will be built on the north west side of town on College Street just past Kansas Expressway.

"This is an area that we can't reach quickly based on our deployment. The travel times are long to get support companies into that area and it's an area of highest demand," said Pennington.

Kaleb Warren lives across the street from where the new station will be.

He said, "It will be nice to know that there's, literally right there, in view of my driveway, first responding people. The other day there was like a little wreck or something that happened right there. It took a good 15, 20 minutes before people started to get here."

He will breathe a sigh of relief knowing help is nearby.

"It takes time I understand but it would be better to not wait 20 minutes in case you were having an emergency, heart attack," said Warren.

That's not the only benefit of the new and updated stations around Springfield.

Insurance Agent, Sean Greves said, "From an insurance perspective, the more fire protection you have better the rates are going to be overall, most likely."

He said a good Insurance Services Office rating, or ISO given to a city's fire department matters.

"A few of the things that come into play when it comes fire ratings the fire protection class: training, personnel, quantity, the number of fire stations, the number of fire fighters, the quality of equipment," he explained.

Springfield is ranked near the top at a score of 2 out of ten.

Pennington said he and his team are always working to find new ways to keep you safer.

"What we have to evaluate is what resources we need to serve the expectation of the community. Things are changing very quickly. Certainly the needs of the community are evolving but the fire department is always the fire department. When people need help they call and we come," he said.

In all four stations will get upgrades, two new ones will be built and two will be replaced over the next five years starting next year, paid for by the level property tax approved by voters.

Read the original version of this article at www.kspr.com.