Study recommends new county fire stations, staff

A new study suggests a time of growth for the Clark County Fire Department, including building new stations and hiring additional staff, among other recommendations.

The final study, prepared by the Bluegrass Area Development District at the county’s request, is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday by the Clark County Fiscal Court.

“We’ve had the same level of staffing for 16 years,” Clark County Fire Chief Ernie Barnes said. “As we prepare for growth, it’s a good time to look at stations.”

The study suggested adding two new stations, one along Boonesboro Road and a second along Lexington Road, possibly near Clintonville Road.

Each station should then have at least one engine and three firefighters.

One option, Barnes said, would be to move the county’s station 2 equipment and personnel to a new station.

The county shares Station 2 on Fulton Road with Winchester Fire-EMS and has for many years.

“I’d love to see an additional station south of town first,” Barnes said. “The population has increased on the south end of the county. We need to get to that area a little quicker.”

It would also eliminate a coverage overlap between the county’s station 1 and station 2, he said.

“If you go that way first, you don’t lose anything when you move station 2,” Barnes said.

Station 1 is also on the list for some maintenance. A recent engineer’s report found the building has settled over the years and needs repairs, but cost estimates have not yet to develop, Barnes said.

“We need to take care of what we have first,” he said.

The study also recommended adding staff to meet National Fire Protection Association standards, which suggests 15 people respond on a first alarm for a single family structure fire. On any given day, Clark County has seven firefighters on duty including a battalion chief, a captain and a lieutenant. The department also has more than two dozen volunteers who can respond or cover shifts.

“When an additional station is constructed it should hold at least one engine staffed with at least three personnel,” the study reads. “According to the NFPA … an engine company is defined as four personnel.”

Barnes said the department’s run volume has increased through the years, including many to assist on EMS calls.

According to the study, the department filed 873 incident reports for calls to service. Nearly half, 47 percent, were to help EMS crews. Another 21 percent were for fires, and 14.5 percent were for hazardous conditions.

The study also suggested looking at sites for new fire hydrants, including dry hydrants, and adding technology to gather additional data and information for the department.