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Letter to the editor: Why isn't there money for fire protection?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

I have recently learned that due to a shortfall in city funds your local fire department is being deprived of the manpower needed for proper protection of the city. They are down from 475 firefighters to approximately 440. This reduction has occurred even though their territory has been expanded with the addition of Aboite to their coverage area.

Although about a 35-person reduction doesn’t seem like much, let’s see how that plays out. When Aboite was added, three new stations were built. That meant the current fire stations had to be thinned a little to provide the manpower for the new stations. Four new trucks were added using 12 firefighters each. So, they took one person off each of five ladder trucks per shift, shorted each rescue truck one person per shift and did not replace six code enforcement officers who retired.

Now code enforcement officers make visits to schools, office buildings,

restaurants, etc., to ensure that everything is up to safety expectations. With the shortage of officers, schools especially are not getting inspected as regularly as they should.

This shrinkage of manpower means more on-duty hours and more tired firefighters, which could lead to greater risk for them when fighting fires and to the public they serve. For those who are unaware, firefighters are called out for all car accidents and all EMS runs as they are also trained EMTs.

I would like to know why money is available for “beautification” in the downtown area but not available to ensure adequate fire protection. Also, there will be more firefighters retiring. Will they, too, not be replaced?

If you would like to know this also, contact one of your City Council members (427-1445) or the mayor’s office (427-1111).

Linda Demorest