CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Cleveland Fire Department needs to grow if it is going to meet the needs of an expanding city, Fire Chief Steven Haun said in a recent presentation to the Cleveland City Council.
"If we don't continue to grow our services, we're going to outgrow ourselves," he said.
Haun proposed ultimately increasing the department's number of fire stations from five to seven and replacing its oldest station with a larger and more modern facility.
The need for more stations, equipment and personnel are driven by a need to continue to provide citizens with the level of service they have come to expect and to reduce hardships on personnel who are stretched thin to cover more area and residents, Haun said.
"We end up working employees to death trying to cover the same services," said Haun, citing the fire department's experiences during the recent economic downturn.
Possible locations for the proposed stations include Westland Drive in southwest Cleveland and Stuart Road in northeast Cleveland, he said, pointing out existing or planned industrial and commercial development in those areas.
He recommended replicating the fire department's Freewill Road station and equipment as a model for one on Westland Drive.
The capital investment associated with the proposed facility and apparatus -- a firefighting vehicle -- is estimated at between $1.9 million and $2.2 million, Haun said.
He also presented conceptual drawings for a two-story structure dressed in commercial rock as a possible replacement for Keith Street's Station 4, which was built in 1969.
Although the one-story brick buildings of Station 4 are in an excellent location, they are comparatively undersized for the station's manpower and newer firefighting vehicles, Haun said.
Clearance also becomes a challenge when backing trucks into the station's bays, he said.
City Councilman George Poe asked whether the station's property size would allow for a drive-around approach that circles the facility.
It has been the fire department's experience that spare vehicles tend to block bays in such situations, Haun said.
He said the station's utility will need to be expanded to place medical responders on the nearby greenway through the use of all-terrain vehicles. With the increased size and use of the greenway, it is a matter of when, not if, a medical emergency occurs there, Haun said.
Officials also discussed the possibility of bridging Mouse Creek to access the greenway from the fire station's property. Now emergency responders would have to access the greenway at points north or south of Station 4.
Whenever the Station 4 replacement concept becomes more concrete in logistics and costs, considerations will need to be made to include state regulations associated with bridging Mouse Creek, Councilman Bill Estes said.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.