GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – (KREX) Seconds save lives, but with a rapidly growing population, fire services in Grand Junction are stretched thin. “The majority of our calls happen in the inner city area so we have to put the majority of our units down there,” Mark McIntire, Grand Junction Fire Department, EMS chief says.

Fire crews are constantly monitoring call volumes to decide where to send first responders. “This is really concerning to me because I thought I lived in a house that is one minute and 20 seconds away from an ambulance and then I find out that that’s not actually the case,” One resident says.

With six fire stations in Grand Junction and two more on the way, the news that your proximity to a fire house may not guarantee a faster response time to something like a heart attack or stroke, came as a big shock. “We attract elderly people, Station 2’s area, Station 6’s area has twenty two nursing homes and assisted living centers in that area alone so we have to deploy our resources to handle those calls, yes there is a huge elderly population up here in the Redlands but there is an even bigger one in the north half of town,” McIntire says.

Grand Junction planned three fire stations and built one, since 2019 to meet the Western Slopes greatest needs, but they don’t have the people to staff those stations. “Its about $16 to $20 million for the facilities, we could have built all three within about 18 months but staffing them is going to take about four to five years,” Greg Caton, GJ City Manager said.

Fire crews are working to accommodate a growing population, while also striving for excellence.