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To Keep Up With Growth, Wake County Considers Closing, Moving Fire Stations

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County firefighters are worried about a new study that suggests closing several fire stations. New ones also would be added.

It is a controversial topic that has the county looking ahead.

According to projections, 1 million people will live in Wake County by 2018. Wondering whether emergency services can keep up, the county paid a consultant $140,000 for advice.

Most of that money went toward studying fire stations.

"The consultants were asked to identify the best locations for fire stations in the county," said John Rukavina, director of public safety for Wake County, "so people could get the best service."

The study recommends closing seven fire stations, building eight new ones and moving four others.

The basis for the study is to troubleshoot for the rural areas that are expected to become more suburban and for the suburban areas that are expected to become more urban.

"We can't stop change, but we want it to benefit the citizens of Wake County," said Scott Harris, Western Wake Fire Chief.

When asked if this proposal would benefit Wake County, Harris said: "My answer right now would be 'no.'"

Harris said he worries the county may move too fast.

"Both stations I have, as the study recommends, would be closed," he said.

Closed with the recommendation that nearby Raleigh or Cary would pick up Western Wake's calls -- a span of eight miles on Interstate 40.

Harris said no one knows if Raleigh or Cary are interested, or if the transition could be made by next year, when the study suggests closing Harris' two stations.

"Longer-term, I think these are going to be difficult decisions that the Wake County Board will have to balance with what exists today and what's needed for tomorrow," Rukavina said.

By 2018, that may mean juggling emergency crews to serve a million people here.

The consultant firm, TriData of Virginia, originally was set to present its study to the commission Feb. 16. Instead, the company first will try to answer some of the questions posed by Harris and the Wake County Fire Commission.


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