At an Ann Arbor City Council work session yesterday, Ann Arbor Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard presented a proposal for restructuring the AAFD from its current five-station model to a three-station model.

Future Response Times

Courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor

Current Response Times

Courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor

The plan proposes closing Station 3, at 2130 Jackson Avenue, Station 4, at 2415 Huron Parkway and Station 6 near Briarwood Mall. It would maintain Station 1, located on Fifth Street between Huron and Ann Streets and Station 5, located near the Northwood housing area and reopen the formerly closed Station 2, at Packard and Stadium Streets. In the proposed model, the AAFD would retain its staff of 82 firefighters and redistribute its trucks and personnel among the stations, establishing the battalion chief at Station 1.

Two trucks carrying four firefighters would respond to each fire, meeting the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration requirement that four firefighters must be on site before entering a burning building.

The proposal stated that such changes would help alleviate pressure on the strained state and city budgets by reducing costs.

Hubbard added that despite fewer stations, the restructuring would help firefighters respond more quickly to calls.

“The plan I’m proposing is to get more firefighters to the scene in a safe and effective manner,” he said. “By consolidating our resources together and responding together, they can get to the areas quicker.”

Hubbard said faster response times could help AAFD better meet the National Fire Protection Agency standard of responding to an emergency call with four firefighters within four minutes. The standard also calls for 14 out of 15 firefighters to arrive on the scene within eight minutes in 90 percent of incidents.

Maps shown at the meeting indicated a larger area of four-minute response coverage under the proposed three-station model than under the current five-station model.

In the past, AAFD has struggled to meet NFPA standards, with response times two minutes slower than the average industry standard.

However, few neighboring cities meet the industry standard because of the cost associated with employing sufficient firefighters, according to Hubbard.

“It is very difficult with the current economic state,” he said.

Hubbard added that the city will need funding to reopen Station 2 to accommodate for repair work.

“It is really not that big of a cost factor right now, but over the next three or four years, we might have to replace the roof and boiler,” he said. “We could have big costs for Station 2.”

Councilmember Mike Anglin (D–Ward 5) said despite the possible disadvantage to those living near soon-to-close stations, the proposed model is more efficient.

“There are some people who are going to lose some service, but (it will) include a lot more in a better service,” Anglin said. “I think those who are on the fringes are going to have to understand this, too.”

In addition to the AAFD proposal, Anglin said he wants to increase public fire education in the community and distribute more fire safety handbooks to Ann Arbor residents and students.

Councilmember Tony Derezinski (D-Ward 2) said he is impressed with the proposal.

“I think this is a very creative way of doing this,” Derezinski said. “You are really pulling a rabbit out of the hat … by effecting increased coverage (with) fewer stations.”

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