Fire department 'brownouts' begin

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - As most Cincinnati city departments continue to struggle to make deep budget cuts, the fire department will now begin using its "brownout" solution to save money.

As part of the brownouts, up to four fire companies will be shut down per day. It could mean slower response times to residents, but fire officials say there is no reason to panic if you need help, because they will be there, it just may take a little longer. If the fire company closest to you isn't open because of the brownout, you'll have to wait for the next closest responders.

"That's very concerning," said Cincinnati resident Danielle Niles. "Someone could lose their life, their house, their belongings."

The move comes as the Cincinnati Fire Department tries to help fix the Queen City's $28 million budget hole.

Some residents say that's it's wrong move, and the firefighters union agrees.

"They have to find the money somewhere else, not the fire houses," said Niles.

"Obviously, the more trucks that we take out of service, the longer that its going to take that truck to get on the scene," said firefighter union leader Marc Monahan. "Most firefighter injuries or fatalities happen with in the first five minutes."

Fire officials say they have enough personnel to avoid brownouts on Sunday and Monday, but Tuesday may be a different story.

"Basically it's a temporary company closure," said Monahan. "Basically, if we don't have enough staffing for the day they will close those companies, so the effected neighborhoods and the surrounding neighborhoods will be with out that fire apparatus for that day."

That fire apparatus includes latter trucks and specialty units.

City leaders have said they realize the public will probably have safety concerns related to these brownouts, but say Cincinnati residents also need to realize the fire department has been excellent in response times across the board.

The brownouts are scheduled to continue through the end of the year.