Fire officials say they're set to lose 15
firefighters later this summer because of layoffs.
"These fatal fires bring it even more
into perspective and just how vital it is to have the right number of
firefighters," said Chris Klug, Middletown Firefighters Union president.
Klug says they have a chance to apply for a FEMA Safer Grant that would pay to
keep all 15 firefighters, but he says the city is not interested in applying.
"The city manager claims that there's
too many strings attached when really the only string that's attached to a
Safer Grant is you can't layoff during that time span in which you have the
grant," said Klug.
A recent audit of the fire department found
that the average response time in 2001 was four minutes. Just last year, it
jumped to five minutes and 10 seconds. Klug says it's not just fire response,
it's medical emergencies too.
"Heart attacks, strokes, someone not
breathing. Time is of the essence and if we don't have adequate personnel then
these people are sitting here waiting for this help," said Klug.
Klug says the city faced a similar situation
in 2012 when six firefighters would have lost their jobs, but the city applied
for the FEMA Safer Grant, saving all the positions. Klug says he understands
the city is going through some tough times with their budget, but public safety
can't be sacrificed.
"To not even be given the opportunity I
think is not the most sound, smartest decision," said Klug.
Klug says they're going to continue to meet
with all the council members and other city officials to try and convince them
to apply for the Safer Grant.
our commitment to balanced news, FOX19 reached out to the city manager's office
multiple times for comment, and didn't hear back.