116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion Fire Department may relocate Fire Station 3 while also looking for a place to build the city’s fourth fire station.
Marion Fire Chief Tom Fagan presented a department action plan for the next 18 months to the Marion City Council on Tuesday night.
Fagan noted coverage gaps south of Highway 100 in the city and said relocating Fire Station 3, at 600 Eighth Ave., would be a top priority in the next couple of years.
“We don’t have locations for you tonight,” Fagan told the council. “But this is to start that next step. We would construct a new station in the future in a better location and relocate the resources to that location for better service coverage.”
Fagan worked with Rachel Murtaugh, the city’s geographic information systems analyst, to identify areas in the city needing improved coverage.
Fire Station 3, which was built in 1964, is scheduled for a $500,000 renovation, but that funding could be reallocated to address coverage gaps, Fagan said.
At the same time, the city is looking for a place to build Fire Station 4 in northeast Marion, which also has a coverage gap. The national standard of response times is four minutes for emergency medical calls and six minutes for fires.
“I like that we're using all this data to drive decisions,” council member Steve Jensen said. “Nowhere on our radar was relocating Station 3. All we had was adding Station 4. But this GIS info and data is driving this, and that's very good for us as a city council.”
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly asked if the priority would be to relocate Station 3 before doing anything with Station 4.
“Correct,” Fagan said. “There are real key community conversations that need to be had. But my recommendation is to optimize our level of service at the three stations and maximize that potential for the best protection.”
A 2015 accreditation study said the rapidly growing city needs four fire stations, with the fourth station to be built near Highway 13 and 35th Avenue.
In 2020, the Marion City Council approved spending a combined $1.1 million for the fourth station site and training facility. The city budgeted $400,000 for the station location project, with the Marion Firefighters Association contributing $695,000 for the training facility, largely through a trust fund set up by Don and Ruth DeVault.
Don DeVault, a Marion volunteer firefighter for 50 years, donated $60,000 to the association when he died. Ruth DeVault donated another $907,000 to the association when she died in 2013.
The city opened its new Fire Department Headquarters at 100 Irish Dr. last summer. The new station was the city’s first since 1991.
Fagan said he also would like to hire six more firefighters over the next two years — three in the first year and three the next.
“We need one more per shift,” he said. “We’re pursuing grants. They’re not guaranteed. But they are opportunities to help fund these positions.”
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