South Hutch residents lobby city council for vote on fire department

By Adam Stewart
Hutchinson News – April 5, 2017

Two weeks after reaching a consensus to keep its fire department and eventually move toward a full-time professional department, the South Hutchinson City Council heard from a full house of people Monday night opposing construction of a new fire station to accommodate a more professional department.

Many expressed dismay at the estimated $850,000 to $1 million price tag for a new station and the property tax increases that would bring.

“I think the fire department budget is out of control,” Cathy Herren said.

She said she would like to see South Hutchinson return to an all-volunteer fire department. Several other members offered to volunteer on the fire department.

Mayor Pete Murray said the reason the city is considering creating a professional fire department is because it is difficult to get enough volunteers who actually are able to respond. When he was on the fire department, many firefighters had the OK from their jobs to leave to respond to calls. Now fewer employers are willing to take that step.

James Dull said he likes the idea of a local, professional fire department and that he could bear the tax increase required, but his mother-in-law couldn’t on her fixed income, and he knows a lot of people in South Hutchinson are in the same boat.

Dull said he considered contracting with Hutchinson for fire service to be the right option. It would cost a bit more than the current fire department budget: an estimated $486,000 vs. $403,000, but the city could sell its firefighting equipment and use the current fire station for a full-time ambulance service. he said response times for Hutchinson fire trucks coming to South Hutchinson are actually better than the time for volunteer firefighters to respond.

Council member Joe Honeycutt cautioned that if South Hutchinson closes its fire department, it would be cost-prohibitive to start one again down the road, thanks to the high cost of fire trucks.

Council member Dave Pitman said he thought a decision should go to the public for a referendum. Honeycutt asked City Administrator Matt Stiles if a town hall to discuss fire issues could be scheduled. Stiles said that could be scheduled.

The council took no action on the issue Monday.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

1 Response to “South Hutch residents lobby city council for vote on fire department”

  1. 1 J. Heck April 5, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    You’d think as old as all the south hutch residents are, they’d want a paid professional service responding quickly.


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