Firefighters Upset About Loss Of Equipment

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE, June 30th, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- Some Louisville firefighters say a decision by their chief could put the public's safety at risk. But the fire chief says nothing could be further from the truth. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon has the story.

Some Louisville firefighters went door to door to educate residents about what they believe is a serious problem. Starting Thursday, the west side fire station will have one less engine -- that's one less weapon to fight fires.

Captain Roxanne Hack with the Louisville Fire Department says "We care about what we do and the service that we provide to this community. And since we're the ones who will have to deal with the consequences of any emergency that comes up, we're concerned about it."

They serve a neighborhood where one house fire could lead to another. "We sit really almost on top of each other," says Teresa Ashford, who lives in the neighborhood. "So it's a big concern."

Louisville Fire Chief Gregory Frederick decided to move the engine to another station on Manslick Road. It will replace an outdated truck there from the 1970s.

Also, six positions left open by retiring firefighters will not be filled. "I believe the city told our chief that there needed to be a cut in the budget and this is where he sees fit to make that cut," Hack says.

But Chief Frederick says the city actually expanded the department's budget by $5 million, but rising salaries made some cuts necessary. "Everybody's looking for ways for to be more cost effective. And I think this is one of the measures that we need to take in order to streamline our operation just a bit."

But firefighters like Hack say it could slow down response times and put neighbors at risk.

Chief Frederick, however, says he "would not submit anything in the budget that I felt compromised our safety."

The fire chief also told me that the department will soon be doing what they call a deployment study, which will help them identify the stations that need more trucks and more firefighters, along with stations that could get by with less.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever