Fire station closes due to tight budget

Capt. Rich Bliven
Capt. Rich Bliven

Lyndon, Ky - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LYNDON, KY (WAVE) - Tough times means tough cuts, and that's what a Louisville community will face next week when they'll notice a reduction in firefighters. The Lyndon area will have to cope with a one-day loss of one its fire stations.

"It's about a budget situation that we've been encountering for sometime,"  said Capt. Rich Bliven, Jr. with the Lyndon Fire Department.

That means come Tuesday, November 9, firefighter's uniforms will hang on the wall, the phones will go unanswered and the department's trucks won't be rolling out to emergencies. For 24 hours, the main Lyndon fire station and surrounding departments will have to take care of runs normally handled by Lyndon's Station 2.

"They're still going to get a response," Bliven said. "People still need to remember to dial 911 in an emergency whether it be a fire emergency or a medical emergency. Someone is still going to respond."

Four people a shift work at Station 2, putting working a 24/48 shift, meaning they work 24 hours and are off for 48. On Tuesday, two will be away for training; two more on vacation. With low staffing levels department wide and no overtime dollars in the budget, leaders say they simply can't replace them. The department isn't saving money by closing but won't be spending money it doesn't have.

"We're getting behind financially largely impart due to the fact that our tax cap has not been increased for several years," said Bliven.

A tax cap that hasn't been updated since the 1940's means the average homeowner pays about $200 a year to the fire department. Leaders hope Frankfort will take notice and get with the times. And it's the timing of this situation that is especially worry some for firefighters.

"Definitely in the winter time its tough. People are starting to use space heaters and candles more. They are firing up their furnaces which creates problems and chimney fires and so we're coming into a season that's typically busy," Bliven said.

The department still hopes to add an ambulance service, which would add revenue. But it had to cut $200,000 this year alone and officials are worried even more cuts will have to be made in January when they start work on their budget that takes effect in June 2011.

The 2010-2011 budget came in at $3.1 million, with about 85% of that going to the department's payroll and benefits.

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