Derby looks to add more firefighters

DERBY, Kansas – The city is looking to boost its firefighter ranks and be able to improve its response times to major incidents.

Derby has seen substantial growth in the past ten years and officials say with that comes a need for more public safety personnel that can respond to residents at a moment’s notice.

“You have one crew out, another call comes in, or then we’ll get calls that take multiple units, so it depletes our resources pretty quickly right now,” Derby fire chief Brad Smith said.

The derby fire department put in a $384,000 request in next year’s budget to hire six full-time firefighters and help handle a 34 percent increase in calls since 2008.

“We have spells that we have very few house fires, and then the last six months to year, we’ve had a lot of house fires in here,” Smith said.

Derby Fire is looking to improve its response time to calls. The national standard of answering calls for help within 4 minutes is 90 percent. City data shows Derby is only doing that 82 percent of the time.

“We have never been able to meet that goal because we just don’t have the staffing available,” Kathy Sexton, Derby’s city manager, said. “We do think that adding staff will help us get there.”

Voters have proven that public safety is a high priority in Derby. They voted in a half-cent sales tax last year, and part of that plan was to fund more firefighters. Whether half of those will be hired next year and the others later, or all now, is still to be determined.

“New estimates for the sales tax revenue indicate we could probably go ahead and hire all six in 2015, which operationally, has some benefits,” Sexton said.

City leaders are continuing to review the figures to see how many firefighters can be added and when. A proposed budget will be presented to the Derby city council in a few weeks.

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