Wichita firefighters concerned about possible budget cuts

KWCH – August 14, 2018

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Tuesday morning, members of the Wichita City Council will review the city’s 2019-2020 budget.

Some Wichita firefighters worry they could be impacted by potential cuts.

Matt Schulte, the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 135, says the department needs more resources not less.

“Our injuries have been through the roof already. Firefighters getting hurt because we’re working so hard trying to keep the lid on that it’s showing up,” said Schulte.

He says the city wants to stop using the large fire engine the department uses in east Wichita.

“We have on record of the manager saying last week there’s gonna be a squad put out there instead of an engine, well, you can do more with an engine, and those are big homes. Lots of big homes,” said Schulte.

A squad is a pickup truck with water and skid pump. It’s cheaper to use but Schulte says it’s not as effective when you have big fires.

He also says Tuesday’s budget proposal will include eliminating 10 firefighter positions.

The union has been vocal not wanting to see budget cuts and encourages citizens to contact Mayor Jeff Longwell.

Last month, he said the city is evaluating the best use of useful resources to meet safety standards.

He said the city also wants to be a good steward of tax dollars, but Schulte says now is not the time to cut back on firefighters.

“It takes more people to service those large areas when there’s that many people, and we’re already behind the eight ball on the east side of town because we need more units, we need another station out there,” said Schulte. “We need another station out west because we’re just not meeting our response time goals. We’re not sure why we’re shrinking the fire department during this time.”

Schulte says when it comes to eliminating positions, no one is getting fired. He said when firefighters retire, no one will be hired to replace them.

Again, the city will hold a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday at 9.m.

The current proposal totals more than $600 million.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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