Tucson Fire Station closes, numerous response units shut down due to staffing shortages--TFFA says tens of thousands impacted
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Fire Fighters Association shared what they call concerning news with the community today, as the Station 6 fire house on Wilmot closed due to staffing shortages.
But that’s not all.
“Inside that station is a fire engine, as well as a brush tender which responds to wildland fires. We also shut down a paramedic truck, two EMS captains, a hazmat response truck, which provides hazardous material response to not just the city of Tucson, but to all of Southern Arizona and the region. We also shut down our air light and power truck which provides obviously lighting and refilling of air bottles as well as rehab to our firefighters for any fire that we go to. So all of those units were shut down,” says TFFA Vice President Nate Weber.
Weber says staffing levels have been critically short for quite some time. And the TFD Chief has asked for a better budget to provide for community and population growth.
“I can tell you that our staffing is already low, prior to any of this conversation of the imposed mandate,” says Weber.
But once fully imposed, he says it may not make the staffing issues any better.
“Today we called in nearly 40 firefighters for overtime to fill those vacancies and today, we have none of our firefighters that are on the suspensions imposed by this mandate, and the terminations have not even begun that are imposed from this mandate.”
Weber says he has never seen anything like this, and says it comes down to funding from the City of Tucson, and doing a better job recruiting.
“For any of the current vacancies that we have, or vacancies that are created, it takes nearly 14 months to recruit and train firefighters so that they can put those people in those vacant seats.”
This all comes as TFD continues to lose people to more competitive agencies. Weber says, “We need to take better care of our men and women of public safety. We continue to lose a large amount. This last year or two a record amount of people were lost to area agencies.”
KOLD asked Weber how many people would be impacted by these shut downs and closure.
“I would honestly say tens of thousands. And the reason being is that station 6 covers the area of Wilmot so you have all of the travel from Corona de Tucson to Sahuarita all down Wilmot. It covers the public safety academy. It covers three different prisons on Wilmot as well as part of Littletown as well as parts of the freeway. With Medic 19 that was shut down, that is the only ALS response and transport unit for that entire area of anybody who’s traveling from Vail and Corona de Tucson as well as the communities of Mesquite Ranch, Rita Ranch, etcetera.”
Weber says something also important to note is Tucson is at the height of winter visitors returning and events like a soccer tournament, the air show, and others are in town. He says the units that have been shut down could instead be responding and helping the community.
“The staffing shortages TFD is facing will result in longer response times for the Tucson community and will greatly increase the danger to both our public and our firefighters. Our men and women continue to step up and do an amazing job serving this community despite many of them working 36 or 48 hours straight. Please be patient with our firefighters and understand we are doing the best we can to rise to this challenge,” says TFFA.
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