Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical proposing $52.5M expansion to improve emergency response times

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Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical department chiefs will speak to the city and county commissions Monday about a $52.5 million proposal to build two new fire stations and relocate a third.

As the city of Lawrence expands, emergency response times to the outskirts are becoming more of a concern for LDCFM. There are some hotspots in town where times are lagging behind the department’s goal of four minutes or less.

The number of incidents LDCFM handles each year has also grown to a three-year rolling average of 14,226 in 2019-2021 from 9,265 in 2006-2008. That’s roughly a 53.5% increase.

A station optimization analysis, completed and presented to the city commission in June 2021, recommended constructing two new fire stations — one in northwestern Lawrence and one in south-central Lawrence — and relocating Station No. 3, which is currently near Sixth Street and Kasold Drive, further north and east to Iowa Street. 

The two new stations are estimated to cost $37 million upfront, plus $6.8 million in annual operating expenses, according to updated cost estimates included in Monday’s meeting agenda. Those numbers have grown by about $8.3 million total since LDCFM leaders spoke to the city commission about the proposal in April 2022.

The cost to relocate Station No. 3 is estimated at $15.5 million.

The city and county both fund LDCFM. If the $52.5 million plan moves forward, the cost to the city is estimated at $34.4 million, and to the county, $18.1 million, according to the agenda.

“The request is that these expenses will be paid for by additional property taxes,” according to a memo to the commissions. “Projected Mill levy impacts will be presented verbally.”

The presentation also asks whether the LDCFM expansion should go on ballots in November.

Here’s the presentation from the meeting agenda:


Seamus Albritton, president of the firefighters union, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1596, asked city commissioners in April 2022 to please take the recommendation to add more fire stations seriously, and to act on the need during their next budget cycle. 

“What we can’t out-train for, or out-innovate, is not getting there in time to even make a difference,” Albritton said. 

Monday’s special meeting is set to begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel and available via Zoom. Register for the Zoom meeting at this link. Members of the public can send written public comment to be included in the agenda until noon Monday to See the full meeting agenda at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for May 27 – June 2, 2024

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Look closely at the gnarly bark of this cottonwood and near the top you will see a 17 year cicada from Brood XIX, which extends into the eastern two columns of counties in Kansas, even though most maps don’t show them going this far west.


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