Perrysburg union head: Fire staffing changes put public at risk - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Perrysburg union head: Fire staffing changes put public at risk

Posted: Updated:
PERRYSBURG, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Perrysburg firefighters say they're feeling the squeeze from city hall. The department's minimum staffing requirements were reduced from five to four firefighters on the clock at all times.

Union leaders say that directly impacts public safety and insurance rates. The union is turning to Facebook to educate citizens about what that does to the department's ability to respond to calls.

For instance, the union says it takes more than two firefighters to fight a fire, but says that's exactly what the city of Perrysburg is asking firefighters to do.

The union has taken to Facebook, regularly posting images and text updates criticizing and ridiculing Mayor Mike Olmstead for the changes.

"Citizens are being put at risk for no reason," said IAFF L3331 President Pete Scarborough.

In addition to the public safety argument, Scarborough says the changes will cost city residents money by way of increased insurance premiums.

"Homeowners insurance, business insurance, everything would change," said Scarborough.

Scarborough says the department has already seen the effects of the staffing changes, and so have some citizens.

"We had an accident in front of the Way Library, a few blocks from the station. It took 15 minutes to get anybody there," said Scarborough.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the city is operating below national standards. Their guidelines require a minimum of four firefighters on an engine, not two.

Mayor Olmstead did not return calls to comment on this story, but discussed the issue at a Perrysburg City Council meeting on June 6.

"I disagree when you say we've gone back. We have not gone back what so ever when it comes to the safety of this community. I want to express that is our position. The numbers support our position," Olmstead can be heard saying on video.

According to Scarborough, those quote numbers don't add up. This past weekend for 36 hours out of 48 the department operated with only two firefighters on the engine. Scarborough says this was done to keep the budget in check, and now it is. He says he hopes this practice doesn't cost anyone his or her life.

"With response times being six to ten minutes - hold your breath for six minutes. If you're still with me I'm there. You won't be awake anymore," said Scarborough.

Note: A previous version of this story featured a headline which attributed "Fire staffing changes put public at risk" to Perrysburg's fire chief. That is incorrect. Perrysburg's fire chief was not interviewed for this story and did not comment on the matter. 

Follow Toledo News Now:

Mobile users, click on the "video" button in the app to watch this story. Download our app here.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.