Ames Fire prepares for changes

Matt Kuhns

As the City of Ames expands and evolves, the Ames Fire Department is working to adapt to the changes already taking place and to prepare for the changes to come.

During the past several months, the Ames Fire Department has been conducting an extensive response-time study, said Ames Public Relations Officer Clare Bills.

Bills said the fire department will compare the results of this study with predictions of how the city will grow in the future.

The fire department eventually will make recommendations to the city council based on this report, Bills said, but no changes in coverage are planned for the immediate future.

“The fire department is in the process of looking at long-range plans,” she said.

Acting Fire Chief Clint Petersen said the department’s evaluation is in its preliminary stages right now.

“We’re looking at our ability to respond to the community as it exists,” as well as how it may exist in years to come, he said.

Petersen said the fire department conducts response-time studies by using formulas to calculate the estimated time to reach various parts of the city, then doing empirical testing of about 10 percent of the data to confirm its accuracy.

The Ames Fire Department conducts regular response-time tests, Petersen said, and does more comprehensive evaluations of service about every 15 years.

One significant change since the 1984 evaluation is the availability of the city’s geographic information system, which allows better predictions of future trends, he said.

In the long run, the fire department evaluation will help to gauge the expectations of the community, and, if necessary, to guide station and personnel relocation.

But for now the department is “not to the point where we’re talking specifics,” Petersen said.

However, there will be one change around the Ames Fire Department in the next few months, as they search for a replacement for recently retired Fire Chief Michael Childs.

Petersen, the interim fire chief, said “they’ll conduct a nationwide search” for the new chief, which could take up to six months.

Whatever changes the fire department makes, he said, its goal will be the same: “We’re just interested in providing the best service to the community.”