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Letters

April 26, 2010

MAILBAG: Letter's to the Editor

— Fire Union

Says Staffing

is Unsafe

To the Citizens of Chickasha,

     As many of you probably read in an article last week the City of Chickasha Fire Department recently purchased a new fire apparatus. The fire apparatus is a multi-functional ladder truck that is capable of being used for quick responses to fire emergencies.  The truck is set up as any other fire truck with the addition of a quick setup ladder, for emergencies that may require both rapid interventions along with ladder operations. This is a valuable piece of equipment that without a doubt was long overdue for Chickasha. It is something the members of the Fire dept are no doubt proud of and so should the taxpayers of Chickasha. This apparatus will prove to be a real difference maker in how your firefighters will be able to handle the emergencies within this community. Of course as I am sure you can guess these types of vehicles are not cheap, in fact they carry a very premium price tag, a price tag that you as taxpayers paid. Because of the commitment from you the Citizens of Chickasha to the safety for those who live and work here the department was able to purchase this apparatus.   

     Unfortunately it seems there are a few members of the local government who do not share the same commitment to safety. Within the last few months due to a “perceived budget crunch” your fire department has cut positions and its minimum manning has been cut as well. The result as you can imagine was significant in how we are able to respond to emergencies and protect the lives and property of you the Citizens of Chickasha. Essentially what has come about through the reductions is that a majority of the time there is only one firefighter assigned to the main station fire truck. So if this apparatus must respond to a fire there will only be one firefighter on the truck. Now obviously there are other personnel assigned to other apparatus however those are frequently on other emergency calls. Therefore it is most definitely a possibility if you were to have a fire at your home or business that you would have a top of the line fire apparatus respond, but with only one firefighter on it. Now without getting into all the details of how we fight fires I think any one of you can understand how having only one firefighter on a fire truck can greatly hinder our ability to do our job. Actually, it means we will not be able to do our job which is to protect the lives and property of those we are sworn to protect. With only one person on a fire truck absolutely no fire ground operations can be performed safely until others firefighters arrive some time later. Lives and property are very much at risk by the reductions your City Leaders have made. Where are the priorities? We have a top of the line fire apparatus but we do not have the appropriate staffing levels to use it. Something is wrong here. In fact when the firefighters brought its concerns to the City Manager his response was, “Well we can just shut the truck down all together.” Instead of staffing being maintained at a level needed, his solution was just to cut even more.

    We urge each one of you, everyone who is a Citizen of Chickasha, to call your local City Leaders and demand that they bring the staffing levels of your fire department to at least meet the minimum staffing requirements. Without this your lives and property are at risk. Call your representative on the City Council, call your Mayor, your City Manager, and even your Fire Chief and tell them you expect more from them. The number for the City Manager’s office is 405-222-6045, the Fire Chief’s office is 405-222-6035, call them and tell them the actions they have taken are unacceptable. We as firefighters have tried to tell them to no avail, maybe if you tell them a positive reaction will take place.

                                   

   International Association of Firefighters, Local 2041, Chickasha, Oklahoma

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