Hoisington considers creating a fire district

HOISINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – A central Kansas fire department is struggling with funding. The Hoisington Volunteer Fire Department serves the City of Hoisington, as well as five townships in Barton County. Just this past summer, one of the water pumpers on the department’s truck broke, and they looked at replacing the truck. They realized they didn’t have the money.

The city is looking to create a fire district, which would create a more stable pool of funding by distributing the cost equally to all townships and cities in the district. This means the district would be independent of the city or county government, and it’d be funded by property taxes from those in its service area.

“We’re trying to create some stability and fairness in funding the fire department needs,” said Jonathan Mitchell, Hoisington city manager.

Currently, townships and cities each pay an amount, based on a five-year average of the population and the number of calls they responded to. That means some townships pay more than others.

Hoisington city officials said that, while this way of funding worked years ago, times have changed, and maintaining a fire department and its equipment has become more expensive.

Hoisington fire crews said they’re concerned that funding issues could turn into safety concerns.

“Your performance is going to go down, and then it’ll be harder and harder to fight fires because you’re going to have less and less equipment and less and less reliable equipment,” said Shane Andereck, a Hoisington volunteer firefighter.

The department still uses the truck on runs, but because it’s so old — what they can do with it is pretty limited. Firefighters tell KSN they’re fortunate they haven’t had to respond to a huge fire, but when that day comes, they want to know they have a reliable, up-to-date fire truck.