EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFIRE STATION CLOSED
from Eyewitness News Online
Charleston Fire Station In South Hills Temporarily Closed Due To Understaffing
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Web Producer: Kristin Keeling
Reported: Jan. 7, 2012 5:51 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 7, 2012 6:25 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The sign posted on the door at Station #5 in South Hills says "closed".
It was forced to shut down for 12 hours, Saturday. Firefighters claim it's due to understaffing. "I had to move these guys to other stations to fill in order to fill those spots. It used to be we call overtime but we can't do that anymore, so now we fill the spots the best way we can," said Assistant Chief, Owen Hawk from the Charleston Fire Department.
Filling the spots meant taking away man power and temporarily shutting down the station. If there was an emergency, firefighters from neighboring stations would respond adding an extra four or five minutes. It may not seem long, but firefighters say those minutes are crucial.
"Fire expands very rapidly...it grows. And the longer it takes the longer along the fire is going to get and the harder its going to be on us and if you have entrapment...it's a lot harder," explained Hawk.
Budget cuts implemented by the city have cut down the amount of overtime firefighters are allowed to use. City Manager David Molgaard says Station #5 has no reason to close from a budget standpoint. He says this is all a management issue.
"Over the last week, we've had four days where we've had actually more people show up for work than our model suggested needed to. Primarily, that's because I don't think they've been able to solidified their vacation schedule. At the fire department they need to schedule their vacation for the whole year at the beginning of the year, and that process I'm told is not finished yet," said Molgaard.
Molgaard also says in the future, when things are ironed out, they may not need overtime.
But in the present, firefighters say lives are at risk.
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