Fire task force at odds with CSFD on station moves

       The Westside's Fire Station 3 may move... or it may not.
       The final proposal by the specially appointed Service Improvement Task Force (SITF) calls for leaving it where it is, unchanged, as part of an overall plan that includes a request for a new station in the southeast to handle heavy growth in that area.
       This conflicts with the wishes of the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD), which has been pushing since January for a plan that would avoid building a new southeast station by relocating Stations 3, 8 and 21 short distances eastward. A new, larger Station 3 would still be west of I-25, Station 1 would be no farther east than probably Printers Parkway and Station 8 would stay west of Academy Boulevard.
       Battalion Chief Clark Stidham, who has been chairing the meetings (which started in late February), will submit the SITF recommendation to Fire Chief Manuel Navarro, who is scheduled to report back to City Council April 26.
        The chief is free to ignore the citizen input, if he wishes; however, it was council that directed him to set up the task force because his January station-relocation suggestion did not specifically match the renovation wording in the public safety sales tax voters had approved in 2001.
       The City Attorney's Office has since ruled that relocation would be within the legal boundaries of the tax.
        The fate of Station 3 is tied to that of Stations 1 (downtown) and 8 (Airport Road west of Academy Boulevard). The latter station is the busiest in the city, largely because of the southeast coverage needs, fire statistics show.
        Under the department's scenario, Station 3 would be relocated to a bigger station with a ladder truck and would become primary responder for the downtown because it would then be closer to that area than Station 1.
        In January, City Council members expressed concerns about having no station in the downtown , but the CSFD believes this is just a matter of perception.
       Data indicate the cost of a new fire station could be covered by the sales tax's proceeds, according to Rose Kliewer, one of four Westsiders on the task force. But the tax cannot cover staff salaries. Thus, to approve the SITF plan, City Council would have to appropriate additional funds, Kliewer said.
       Another disagreement between Stidham and SITF regards how expensive it would be to renovate/ expand Stations 1 and 8 by buying land adjacent to their current locations. He thinks it would be more costly than SITF does.

Westside Pioneer article