Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fire, police departments work around construction

Eudora firefighters Keith Spence and Aaron Evans participate in relay pump drills Wednesday to prepare for out-of-service hydrants caused by construction.

Eudora firefighters Keith Spence and Aaron Evans participate in relay pump drills Wednesday to prepare for out-of-service hydrants caused by construction.

July 17, 2008

Much like the businesses in downtown Eudora, the Eudora Police and Fire departments are finding ways to adapt to the construction brought on by the downtown beautification project.

Construction began July 7 and an open trench stretching from Seventh to 10th streets on the east side of Main Street runs directly in front of the police and fire station.

Fire Chief Randy Ates said construction on Main Street as well as the impending work on the Church Street bridge over Kansas Highway 10 will be an issue.

"Since our volunteers do have to respond to the station to pick up trucks and now we have construction with a one lane road and the overpass at K-10 is going to have the light, it's a cause for concern," he said.

The EFD consists of only one full-time member - Ates - and about 20 volunteers. The fire station also houses EMS members - about 20 of them - and equipment.

Construction work is focused on the area in front of the station because the current storm drain doesn't work and that can hinder traffic pulling into the parking lot.

"The end result will be worth the headache, the confusion and the mess," Ates said. "With the new drainage system, we'll be able to alleviate the standing water problem and they'll widen our drive a bit, too."

When the construction crews remove the concrete from the front of the fire station, the trucks will be moved out of the garage and across the street to the parking lot of the Eudora Community Learning Center.

All fire and EMS members will park along Ninth Street when they report to the station for a call.

The fire department has developed alternate routes and, when heading south, most likely will go straight down Maple Street instead of trying to navigate around the orange construction cones on Main Street.

Transportation isn't the only routine that will have to change.

On July 9, the firefighters took part in pumping drills to see how quickly they could establish a water draft from a dump tank and relay the water to a second fire engine.

The purpose of the drill was to prepare for a possible structure fire in Grandview Trailer Park, which has no hydrants, or in downtown during the water line replacement project.

"With the downtown construction, we're going to have periods of time when the fire hydrants are out of service and the same thing with the sewer and water line expansion on Maple Street," Ates said. "So one of the things we did last night was gear training toward how fast we could set up with a dump tank and pump for about two blocks in case the hydrant that we have closest isn't working."

Ates said he would brief fire and EMS members in meetings of any transportation or logistical changes, but they also can keep up to date via an online reporting system for closed roads and out-of-service hydrants.

While internal communication is the main way the fire department will deal with the construction, the police department must also communicate with the public to ensure they understand construction signs.

Some downtown business owners said they have seen many cars driving in the wrong direction on Main Street. The Eudora Police Department also has received calls from residents reporting cars that seem to be speeding on Maple and Church Streets in order to make up lost time.

As a result, the EPD have taken a proactive approach in educating the public.

"We've just been having a lot of conversations with people to help them understand where to go and make sure people slow down a little bit around the construction," Eudora Police Cpl. Grady Walker said.

The construction doesn't hinder access to the police department to the degree it does the fire department, but construction throughout the city means all officers will need to be aware of road closures.

"My biggest concern is that we have this (construction) going down here now and then we're going to have the bridge so it's going to be pretty difficult to get around," Cpl. Walker said. "Communication is going to be the key. We need to communicate with not only dispatch to keep them apprised of what's going on, but also with EMS and fire and outlying agencies."

For its part, RD Johnson is making a point of communicating with all those involved - both businesses and city services - in weekly construction meetings every Tuesday morning. Project manager Mike Kissinger said he wanted everything to go smoothly just as much as everyone else.

Walker said the project seemed to have been planned well and the police department has been getting a helping hand in its effort to make the area safe.

"So far the construction crews have been awesome and have been lending assistance in directing people to go the right way. Is it going to be an inconvenience, but it's not major."

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