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Lancaster City considers future of its fire stations

LANCASTER, Pa. -- A weekend closure of a Lancaster City fire station could predict the city's future plans for it.

Periodically, the Lancaster Fire Department closes one of its fire stations for the day, and reassigns crews if staffing falls short.

Lancaster mayor Rick Gray (D) said staffing shortages at fire stations typically happen during the summer when some firefighters are on vacation and others may happen to call out sick.

When that happens, Fire House Number 6 station may close, while crews get reassigned to two other stations.

Lancaster City fire station 6 closed for the day on Saturday. It wasn't the first time that happened, and it might not be the last.

"Seven times in June, four or five times in July where the number fell down to 12, and personnel had to be reassigned," Gray said.

Meanwhile, Gray said the city hired a consultant to take a look at the state of all of it's fire stations.

"We asked them to come in, and look at one, the condition of our fire stations, which the fire stations have been complaining about, and with some justification for years now, and also the locations," Gray said.

That study recommends reducing the number of fire stations from three to two, and cutting the city in half into two service areas, divided by King Street.

"One on the eastern part of the city, one on the western part of the city, as being the most efficient, and effective way of providing firefighter services," Gray said.

If the city moves forward with the recommendation, it would mean station 6 would have to close, for good.

Neighbor Sallie Smith said "what's going to happen to our neighborhood? It's security having a fire station close by."

"The City of Lancaster is a small city. We have about a four-minute response time. Four minutes, you call , four minutes, usually there's a firefighter there," Gray said.

That quick response time is why neighbor Smith said station 6 has been a lifesaver in her community.

"A kindergarten kid was crossing the street, and we don't have a guard at this corner, and the school is like right over that little hill right there, but she ran out, and the fire guys came straight out," Smith said.

 

If the city moves forward with the recommendations, that would mean a new station would be built on the east side,  a station on the west side would be renovated, while Fire House 6 would close.

The mayor said the recommendations made in the study will be presented to city council shortly, while a formal presentation will be made in September.