Lufkin Fire Chief plans to close fire sub-station #3

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Due to safety and staffing concerns, Lufkin's fire chief has decided to close fire station #3 on Atkinson Drive. They hope its just temporary, but that all depends on the city's future budget.

Since 1959, fire station #3 has served its neighbors. In a few weeks the station will close.

"The mission of the fire department is not being accomplished right now because staffing is not there," said Chief Danny Kistner, Lufkin Fire Dept.

New to the job, Fire Chief Kistner, observed problems with the safety of firefighters with the current staffing standards.

"The sub-stations have a minimum of three firefighters all the time and if an EMS call comes in then two firefighters get on the ambulance… leaves one firefighter here to make an engine company," said Kistner.

The fire chief is calling this a brown-out of station three until budget concerns are eased.

He doesn't want to close the station in first place - but safety is the first priority.

"The budget cannot support adding additional firefighters at this time… to me its an issue of safety issue on the part of the responding firefighters," said Kistner.

Fire station #3 was chosen because of its proximity to fire station #1 just a few blocks away., but emergency response times could be affected.

"So it will increase somewhat, but the impact will be lower than another station," said Kistner.

Area residents are not so sure.

"If something happens and they can and don't make it or take longer,"said Luis Caldona, area resident.

"In case anything bad happens like fire or somebody went down, and needed help, and it would take longer to get there. It might be a life or death situation," said Kelvin Richards, area resident.

Seconds do count when life or death is at stake. Kelvin Richards hope the city will provide the staff they need to re-open station #3.

"They probably need to do whatever they need to keep the station open. It's vital to the community here," said Richards.

Fire Chief Kistner plans to watch what happens after they close down station #3. He hopes to re-open it if city council approves a higher budget for more firefighters. For now, he says the closure will actually enhance their service to the city.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.