The Defiance Fire Department is missing about a fourth of its usual manpower. The city allows up to 21 line firemen, and after three retirements this year, the department is down to 15.
"I'm running basically three shifts of five, and when I a guy off on vacation, which is usually every shift, I'm at my minimum of four," Chief Dave Schmaltz said.
Schmaltz said the less they have, the less they can do to fight a fire. He also has had to call in off-duty firefighters to answer extra EMS calls.
"There's so many jobs that need to be taking place that we have to prioritize what we can and can't do," Schmaltz said.
As of yet, there are no to plans to replace the firefighters.
"There are challenges everywhere in the city, and part of my responsibility is to ensure that we place priority on that service. If need be, we might have to make some tough choices," said Jeff Leonard, Defiance's City Administrator.
The tough choices include putting a levy on the ballot or increasing taxes. However, the city is currently researching merging with some of the outlying volunteering departments.
"Maybe the three or four of us can combine together to make a department of career and volunteer/part-time staff," Schmaltz said.
An independent survey is being conducted to find out whether this is a responsibility. Defiance officials are expecting the results in September.
The city also will research whether local hospitals would be interested in taking over EMS services.
"We really don't want to leave any options unturned, and we're trying to look at all the options we possibly can," Leonard said.
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