CINCINNATI -- There used to be 55 fire stations in Cincinnati. Now just 26 remain.
Cincinnati Fire Department leaders are now considering adding a new firehouse somewhere on the West Side due to heavy call volume.
Chief Roy Winston said technology has helped firefighters and EMTs cut their response time, but shifting demographics and the heroin epidemic have placed extra burden on some firehouses.
"It taxes our members," he said. "They're up all night. One of the things in the fire service we're concerned with is our wellness program. When we reach a threshold as far as responses are concerned, it impacts the wellness."
District Chief Dan Merz said some West Side companies have gone from being among the slower areas to the busier ones. Some crews are making as many as 30 runs in a day.
"That will wear on you physically," he said.
Adding another fire station would cut down on response times, lessen the wear on personnel and reduce the number of equipment failures, according to Merz.
To add a new station, the department will need more new recruits, according to Matt Alter, the president of firefighter union Local 48.
"We're seeing huge turnovers because of retirements and our recruit classes are barely able to help with attrition, let alone add to the firefighters," he said.
Winston said a new station would likely cost between $3 million and $7 million, depending on the size. The department currently has a budget of $10 million for a new training facility and $7 million for station improvements.
"One of the things we're looking to do is, instead of using that money for improving fire stations, use that for building some of those fire stations as well," Winston said.