Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IN WEEKLY: Budget Woes Handicap Fire Service...Sixty percent of Pensacola fire stations undermanned

In February 2011, the IN Weekly printed an article surrounding the understaffing of the Fire Stations in the City.

The article states:

City officials often brag on the “world-class” Pensacola Fire Department. It was one of the major selling points for consolidation. What isn’t mentioned publicly is that 60 percent of the city’s fire stations are undermanned to the point that they don’t meet national fire safety standards. Precious minutes are being lost as multiple stations are having to be called in to fight fires before crews can enter burning structures.

Included in the article is a quote from Chief Schmitt

Interim Pensacola Fire Chief Matt Schmitt confirmed DeWeese’s statements concerning fire station staffing. “We’ve downsized with the budgets of every other city department here trying to make it through the economic hard times we are in,” Schmitt explained. “Positions were defunded; when someone retired out, we just didn’t hire in.”

Schmitt told the IN that the downsizing has created problems when working simultaneously with large, multiple incidents. “But, we do have a mutual aid agreement with the Escambia County Fire Rescue. We can draw on them for support, but it takes time,” Schmitt continued. “Before the downsizing, we could easily manage two major incidents at the same time. Considering the size and scope of a given incident, that could be extremely difficult at this time.”

I congratulate the Pensacola Professional Firefighters on reaching a deal with the Mayor's office on position funding in 2011-2012.  I just hope that the deal is implemented sooner rather than later as OUR CITIZENS LIVES may depend on it.

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