Des Moines Airport Hears Complaints - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Des Moines Airport Hears Complaints

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Addie Olson

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The Des Moines International Airport heard from citizens of the city in a board meeting Tuesday morning.

"If there's any possibility whatsoever to go back to the system that we had before that was so effective, I'm going to try anything I can to make sure that happens," said Des Moines resident Ken Sager.

Sager and others want the airport to get rid of a new firefighting proposal. Right now the Air National Guard has a fire department at the airport, but soon they can no longer provide the service.

"I don't want anybody to make the decision that it will be the same before and after because it won't be the same," said Des Moines Fire Chief John TeKippe.

The airport wants to bring in a private company called Pro–Tec for the job. An EMT and two firefighters will man the Pro–Tec team.

"We've really been pleased with the due diligence that we have done and the information we found out about them and what a good job they've done across the country," said Ed Hansell, the airport's board chairman. 

One long-time pilot thinks the airport is hiring Pro–Tec because they offer their services inexpensively.

Bob Dickson said the board's thoughts should go beyond money.

"The thinking about the passengers and what they have to endure should there be an aircraft accident, needs to be considered, not just the dollars and cents," said Dickson.

Right now the air guard provides a six-man team including a paramedic. Dickson said Pro–Tec can't compare.

"My position is in the cockpit and to give my passengers the highest level of safety that I can," Dickson said.

Des Moines Fire is also worried that they'll have to respond to EMS calls at the airport more often, taking their resources away from other emergencies.

The airport says they have full confidence in Pro–Tec. They believe people who spoke at the meeting are worried without reason.

"In 44 years I've never seen that type of thing take place," said Des Moines Airport Director Don Smithey. "I think it's a scare tactic."

The decision to hire Pro–Tec was set to be approved by the board Tuesday. They've pushed that back to next Tuesday, giving people more time to share their concerns.

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