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Chief Krebill presents Marion Fire Department overview
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · September 7th, 2017

Fire Chief Deb Krebill gave a presentation at a recent City Council work session, reviewing the history of the Marion Fire Department, its current status and what is needed as the community continues to grow.

Fire Station #1, still being used and located at 600 8th Avenue, is now 53 years old. With regard to Station #1, Krebill mentioned that a number of areas of the station do not meet code, including three of four bedrooms and the fact that there is no sprinkler system or storm shelter.

Storage area is also needed.

Fire Station #2 opened in December 1991 and the building is now 26 years old. There is no storm shelter per code. There are a number of other needs, too, such as more space.

Here are the most important figures Krebill shared:

In 1980, the area of the city was less than 9 square miles. Today it is almost 18 square miles (17.79).

The population has doubled since 1980 (100 percent).

The staff has doubled since 1980 (100 percent).

BUT, the call volume has increased by 6 times (600 percent)!

There is one emergency call for every 11 people in the population.

The number of calls per firefighter has doubled from 2000 to 2017.

A staff survey in 2007 suggested building Fire Station #3 on one acre of land; that land would cost $80,000. The building was to have three bays, cover 5250 square feet and cost $1,522, 500.

Here is recent history about strategic plans:

2008-10 - strategic plans were not listed in a "shared" computer drive.

2010-11 - The strategic plan included a new police station but no mention of Fire Station #3.

2011, Imagin8 - No mention of #3.

2011-12 Strategic Plan - No mention of #3.

2012-13 Strategic Plan - No mention of #3.

2014 - City Council Strategic Plan to move forward with #3 (same for 2015).

December 2015 - accreditation application and fire station location study

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) was a source of help. It gives information and provides codes and standards to local fire departments. The FPB (Fire Prevention Bureau) consists of the city's Fire Marshal and Deputy Fire Marshal who are involved with the mission of fire prevention: code enforcement, public education, fire investigations, fire inspections and building plan review.

The CPSE (Center for Public Safety Excellence) made a number of recommendations. One of them was to immediately buy land and build Station #3. Another related to getting accurate call processing data (and is still not complete). And the CPSE recommended getting 15 more firefighters/paramedics and reorganizing staff.

The Center not only wanted three stations; it recommended building a fourth station within four years and also hiring 12 more firefighters/paramedics to staff that station. It also wanted Marion -- within six years - to hire 12 firefighter/paramedics to staff additional medic units.

By 2021 it was recommended that there would be a maximum of 21 firefighters per shift. Currently with the two stations, there are eight per shift.

The hiring sequence for Station #3 would be to hire three firefighters for 2016, another three in 2017 and three more in 2018. That is a total of nine, although the Center wanted 15. The need upon completion would be 12 firefighters and hire three more after the building is occupied.

A location study in 2016 suggested that Station #3 be at 10th Street and Tower Terrace Road or up to one-half mile north of that point.

In moving forward, it is hoped that land can be acquired in 2017, the construction of Station #3 be accomplished in 2018 and occupancy be sometime in 2019. Among the obstacles to this plan are limited locations and the high price of land.

Some funding has been budgeted to hire three firefighters in 2018. However, funding has not been set for three additional firefighters for Station #3. Code compliance needs to be fixed at Station #1, repairs are needed at Station #2, and additional space for headquarters is needed.
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