Discussion on Proposed Fire Hall Merge in Woodland Area Heats Up

By KBJR News 1

March 5, 2013 Updated Mar 5, 2013 at 11:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - There was heated discussion over the possibility of consolidating two fire halls in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood on Tuesday.

The city and the fire chief opened listened to what the public had to say about the possible consolidation.

Many of the residents were hesitant to the idea of building a brand new fire hall, when there are already two in the Woodland Area, one near the UMD campus on West College Street, the other on the interesection of Woodland Avenue and Wabasha Street.

People say they are concerned one fire hall would not allow for proper staffing and response times.

They also question the proposed location, which would be allong Snively Road and Woodland Avenue.

In order to accomodate a fire hall at that location, residential homes would need to be removed.

However, officials say, by building one fire hall, the fire department would save on costs and allow for more staffing, but at a price.

"What I learned in this meeting that concerns me the most is that between UMD and the Woodland fire halls, one of those rigs is going away to be sold. So its one less rig to serve a big area," said Eirik Rennan who currently lives near the Woodland and Wabasha fire hall.

Duluth Fire Chief reasures the community that by building one fire hall, response times would be faster and the safety of the community and firefighters would be better.

Taking one rig out of the picture would save on costs to maintain that equipment and allow the fire department to use equipment more efficiently.

"We will be better equipt to respond because we have four people on the rigs the current 11 station only has two people on it, below national standards and unable to go and fight fires, they have to wait till the next rig gets there. It's just a more efficient way to use the resources that we have," said Duluth Fire Chief, John Strongitharm.

Tuesday's meeting was a just the start of the planning.

This merge comes after a report done in 2012 analyzing the Duluth Fire Department, including their response times.

If you would like to view the report click here

The Fire Chief says they need to make sure they have the right piece of property to continue with the project.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.