Overland Park Fire Department announces new fire station on Blue Valley Southwest campus and accompanying fire science CAPS program

With construction for a new fire station on the BVSW campus beginning in 2021, Blue Valley School district has initiated a coinciding CAPS program for the 2020-21 school year to educate students about a fire science career.

Helmets worn by firefighters hang in a locker room.

Bella Rinne, Opinions Editor

The Overland Park Fire Department announced there will be a new fire station built on the Blue Valley Southwest campus designed to serve the southern portion of Overland Park, according to Fire Chief Bryan Dehner at a public safety committee meeting on April 10. He said in an interview with BVNWnews the interest to establish a new station was due to the increasing development in the area and a need for faster response times, as this area cannot be reached in under five minutes by any surrounding stations.

Along with more coverage in the southern Overland Park area, Blue Valley Deputy Superintendent Tonya Merrigan said there are plans to accompany the station with a new CAPS fire science program. The developing program will utilize the department’s direct service on BVSW campus, along with other facilities, to provide students with a head-start on their fire service career through teaching and training.

“We’re still in the process of identifying what exactly [the program] will look like, but the Overland Park Fire Department will be a strong partner for us,” Merrigan said. “If students do this program, they will know exactly what a career in fire science will look like and what it will entail.”

Dehner said if students takes this course for four semesters, there is opportunity to complete necessary certification, physical ability testing and possibly test out of certain classes required for a fire science associate’s degree. Although the program’s development is still in progress, Dehner said it will provide job opportunities much faster than a traditional fire science education. 

“One thing I’ve learned from CAPS is two and a half hours a day for two years is a significant amount of opportunity.” Dehner said. “That is plenty of time for someone to get all their classroom stuff done and we would be willing to helps facilitate internships, which entails actually putting students on rigs or squads or ambulances. With a student here that long, we would be able to tolerate more risk and putting them in the field to get real experience because we would look to hire them.”

Dehner said he believes the program will provide great learning opportunity and should be considered for students looking to pursue a career in the firefighter field.

The new fire station, being built near Blue Valley Southwest High School near West 179th Street and Quivira Road, is expected to open in 2022 with construction beginning in 2021. The coinciding fire science program for students will be available for the 2020-21 school year.