Kan. volunteer fire dept. opens new station

Fire department saved for 6 years to build debt-free fire station

By Ann Marie Bush
The Topeka Capital-Journal

TOPEKA, Kan. — Soldier Township Fire Department and community members Sunday celebrated the opening of a new unmanned station, 8232 N.W. Topeka Blvd.

The new station will help lower insurance premiums for township residents and could shorten response times, said Chief Karl McNorton.

"We have a lot of great things happening in the community," McNorton said Sunday afternoon. "We have a lot of growth."

The fire department's station at 600 N.W. 46th is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the chief said. The new unmanned station, which cost $207,000, will house three trucks — a brush truck, tanker/pumper and tanker.

The department employs McNorton, three full-time firefighters and has about 35 volunteers who respond to fires and emergency calls in a 63-square-mile area of northeast and north-central Shawnee County.

"We are the largest township in the state," McNorton said. "We're pretty efficient."

About 60 people had stopped by the new location during an open house to visit with firefighters, take a look at the new station and enjoy refreshments.

The fire department has been saving for the new station for about six years and has owned the land on which it sits for 14 years, McNorton said.

"We're very happy with it. We did this debt-free," he said. "It's going to be a tremendous benefit for the community."

The station's volunteer firefighters and full-time firefighters — Battalion Chiefs Marc Folson, Mike Dick and Chad Lady — responded to 784 calls in 2011, McNorton said.

The average response time was between 8 and 10 minutes. McNorton said he hopes the new station will shorten the average response time.

"We're anticipating about 80 calls per year at this location," McNorton said of the new station.

Soldier Township Fire Department was started in 1937, the chief said.

Volunteer firefighter Jason Pisocki attended Sunday's open house. He has been a volunteer for about three years and also serves as the leader of Soldier Township Fire Department's Explorers Post No. 7700.

"It shows our growth," he said of the new station. "This is a cool thing. It's going to help out tremendously."

Copyright 2012 The Topeka Capital-Journal
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