Bettendorf's downtown State Street fire station appears on track to reopen after years of promises

Bettendorf aldermen appear ready to approve a new fire department staff alignment and agreement with their firefighters' union that will enable the city to reopen its long-closed downtown fire station.

The issue of adding firefighters to staff the station has been raised regularly for more than eight years during various mayoral and alderman elections. Initially, the council approved a long-term plan to expand the department, with the goal of reopening the downtown station, only to later shelve funding for additional positions/staff realignments to resume the downtown station operation.

Emergency response times to the older, southern neighborhoods of the city have increased since the closest fire station is along Spruce Hills near 18th Street. The city's other fire station is located on the corner of Middle and Crow Creek Road.

The plan going before the city council Tuesday (5/5) would provide for an additional assistant fire chief, captain and lieutenant position within the department along with an additional firefighter position. The staff adjustments and new firefighter position are part of the city's proposed one-year collective bargaining agreement with the firefighters union, which is also on the agenda for approval.

"Administration has been working together with fire department personnel over the last several weeks to jointly restructure the department and make adjustments to wage scales and out of class
pay to facilitate the opening of an additional fire station and to place the department in a better position to efficiently serve the community into the future," according to the staff recommendation to the city council.

"The contract anticipates a revised supervisory structure which includes an assistant chief, three shift captains, and three shift lieutenants," according to the recommendation to the council. "The captains and lieutenants will each supervise a separate company; one responding from the Spruce Hills Fire Station, and the other responding from the State Street Fire station. This contract proposal, which includes a reduction in out of class pay as well as revised wage scales, is less costly than the original proposed structure that included six lieutenants."

Despite campaign promises by the current and former mayor, staffing of the fire department to a level needed for reopening the downtown station has languished. The fire chief has recommended additional firefighters and funding in his annual budgets, but the city administration and council slowed implementation of staff expansion, citing budget constraints.

This year's capital improvement plan also earmarks funds for acquisition of property to the west of city hall to allow for future expansion of the fire department operations.

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