ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – Fire officials in St. George say they’ll need to add many new fire stations throughout the next decade to keep up with the city’s rapid population growth.
St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said for a city of its size, his department relies heavily on volunteer firefighters. While St. George has steadily hired 10 full-time firefighters in the past two years, the chief said only three of its seven stations are staffed full-time.
“It’s a way to respond to those needs of our city until we can look at more funding,” Stoker said. “Most of the new stations that we’re building we’re planning on staffing full time, and the larger stations will have sleeping quarters and training facilities.”
The city has also faced challenges finding steady volunteers, according to its mayor Jon Pike.
“We are seeing some decline in terms of those that want to or are able to be volunteer firefighters,” said Pike.
In the newly developed south block area of St. George, including the Desert Canyons subdivision around SR-7, fire officials said one active fire station can respond quickly, within in four to six minutes; but if multiple blazes ignite at once, crews said they’re in a bind, as backup stations are 10 to 15 minutes away.
“We’re looking at getting services out there as so as possible, and our station 9 in Little Valley will help assist in our response in that area also,” added Stoker.
Station 9 will be the newest building, which the city anticipates being completed in the next year and a half. But as Southern Utah continues to grow, Stoker said at least four to five new stations will need to be constructed in the near future.
“I think right now, firefighters are meeting the needs, but it’s going to become more of a challenge,” said Pike.
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