By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The union that represents city firefighters said it was shocked by the city’s decision to close Station 3 and move the heavy rescue truck from that location to the Anderson Fire Department downtown headquarters.
“Losing manpower and essential resources are two things we have fought the hardest against for years,” said Cody Leever, president of Local 1262 of the International Association of Firefighters in an email to The Herald Bulletin addressed to “The Citizens of Anderson.”
“We are not ignorant of the fact of budget shortfalls,” he added. “We knew after the city laid off our eight brothers in January there would be staffing issues. We expected this obstacle to come our way earlier this year. Vacation season has always been a heavy overtime period. This year, however, we are down in manpower, so it hits a little harder than before.”
News of the closing reached firefighters last Saturday when they were instructed to report to AFD headquarters for duty.
Station 3 has been home to AFD’s heavy rescue truck for the past seven or eight years. Usually staffed with three or four rescue specialists, the truck is one of the department’s busiest, responding to fires, car accidents and many other medical and rescue calls.
“The citizens of this station’s territory are losing their first due response to all of these incidents,” Leever said.
The station was built in 1978 and has been a neighborhood anchor ever since. The station narrowly missed being shuttered last fall as officials sought to control department costs while maintaining staffing levels citywide, AFD Chief Philip Rogers said this week.
Even though department executives decided to keep the station open going into fiscal 2013, the station “was always on the bubble,” Rogers said.
A critical staff shortage caused by vacations and other personnel issues has forced the department to use up its 2013 overtime budget of $236,600 more rapidly than anyone anticipated. The fiscal year will be half over Sunday, yet the department has already spent $178,000 of its allocation, Rogers said.
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