Letters from the week of April 8

Martin: “Crowded Houses,” April 1

Disaster Support

I appreciate David Martin’s position about the number of fire stations in Kansas City, Kansas, but with a sales tax in the balance and public safety on the line, I’d like to rebut a few points. Pumper 15, in Fairfax, ran 368 calls in 2009 — a few more than “one or two calls a month.” If there’s an event at the GM plant, that rig’s fast arrival is crucial to preventing a small fire from turning into a big and expensive fire. That’s why GM pays taxes.

If you look further in comparing us with Wichita, you’ll see that although they operate a similar number of stations, they have more than 40 pieces of apparatus staffed daily compared with 22 in KCK. Many of our stations are old and have only one rig. A comparison with any department in JoCo doesn’t work. KCK works far more fires a year than most of those departments combined.

The recommended minimum staffing on a pumper is four; on a ladder, four is the minimum and five is ideal. This is critical to performing all necessary functions in a timely and safe manner, increasing survivability of firefighters and the public.

Kansas City, Kansas, is also unique because of its poverty.  Many of the home­owners in this city do not have home­owners’ insurance. Often, what we are able to save with aggressive firefighting is all they will have left after the fire. 

An unchecked fire will double in size every minute: A 1-square-foot fire becomes 16 in four minutes. That is our average response time. One more minute takes a room-and-contents fire to a fire that is out of control and likely unsurvivable. 

We only ask that we have the tools and people to do the job we love safely, and then return home to our families at the end of our shift.

Name withheld by request

David Martin responds: Data that I looked at did not indicate that KCKFD handled more fires than a neighboring city. According to the Wyandotte County budget, KCKFD responded to 2,245 calls for “fire suppression” in 2009. Overland Park reported 3,500 “fire incidents.” I would also note that the GM plant in Kansas City, Kansas, receives breaks on its property taxes.

Feature: “KC Crime = Terrorism,” March 4

Citizens on Patrol

Crime has dropped 40 percent in the city’s 3rd District. For seven years, the East 23rd Street PAC and the 24th Street Nonviolent Marchers have played a big part in the reduction of crime. Yet City Hall and the Kansas City Police Department give credit to Aim4Peace, an organization funded overnight. This organization shows up after a homicide and says to the family, “Do you know who killed your loved one?” They then throw a barbecue and have a march for the victim’s family. And that will cost you $700,000. This is traumatizing to the East 23rd Street PAC and the 24th Street Nonviolent Marchers, who have, without any financial help, brought hope back into this poverty-stricken, depressed, oppressed neighborhood. These groups fight hard to save a child’s life one day at a time and to clean up the community. They have fought to bring the Boys and Girls Clubs to the area. They wrote proposals to have a neighborhood center that would provide services for young adults and senior citizens.

These groups have nothing. Is it fair to say that this city is being funded by a buddy system? As in elected leaders making sure their friends and buddies have jobs? Is it fair to say that we are funding a criminal enterprise? Think about it: If we really start funding organizations like the East 23rd Street PAC, which are the true crime fighters, that would affect the buddy system and that’s a no-no. Does anybody care?

Rachel Riley
Kansas City, Missouri

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