Members of the Bluefield Firefighters union gathered at city hall to battle what they say is a lingering problem, staffing.
The union put on a slide show presentation in an effort to educate the city’s Board of Directors on the importance of having enough of firefighters on duty.
59News spoke with the union’s president, Matthew Pettrey. He says the lack of staff poses safety hazard for both the firefighters and residents.
“We have personnel that are doing the jobs of three to four firefighters in a lot of your city’s they operate with four and up to five main engine company’s and currently at our Cumberland station we’re operating with a two man engine company,” Pettrey said. Pettrey also says working under these conditions causes more stress on the body and could lead to severe health risks
“with that being said we’re putting our bodies in more stress given us that higher risk for those heart attacks which is the number one killer in the united states,” Pettrey added.
The City Manager, Dane Rideout spoke out after the meeting in response to the unions presentation. He says before making steps to increase staff and raise local taxes he’s looking to make the fire department more efficient.
“Remember we have a very finite budget, if I have to increase the fire department size that means I have to shrink something else in the city and so right now I set those priorities on exactly where we have a balanced approach in what we need to get after,” Rideout said.
Rideout added that throwing money at a problem is not always the best way to solve it.
“And then we gotta be very careful that we don’t price ourselves out of a full time fire department that’s key because a lot of cities have said hey its too expensive,” Rideout said.