The Richmond Register

Local News

July 6, 2013

Army depot to furlough firefighters despite safety concerns

County fire chief, Congressman say community could be at risk

(Continued)

RICHMOND —

Sources connected to the firefighters said they were told two weeks ago they would not face the 20 percent work reduction. But last week they were told no exemption was coming, and as of Friday, their furlough orders remained in place.

Security staff at the depot were exempted from the furloughs that require all other depot personnel to work only 32, rather than 40 hours a week from July 8 through Sept. 30, depot public affairs officer Mark Henry said Wednesday.

The Army had been in negotiations regarding a furlough exemption for firefighters, Henry said, but he was unsure if the situation would change before Monday.

Calls to Henry’s cell phone Friday and Saturday went unanswered. Depot administrative personnel work four-day weeks and Thursday was a holiday.

 

Depot fire department staffing levels

In the past, the Blue Grass Army Depot has relied on mutual aid agreements with Richmond and Madison County fire departments to bolster their response numbers. However, with the closure of Richmond Fire Station 5 on Duncannon Lane last year and minimal staffing at Madison County Fire Station 2 at the US 25/421 junction, mutual aid cannot be relied upon to provide adequate manpower, either for the depot or surrounding area, according to depot sources.

Only five firefighters are expected be on shift at the Blue Grass Army Depot when furloughs start Monday, according to depot sources.

“We will not be able to make entry in a fire with five people,” one of the sources said.

Response training for the firefighters follows the “two in, two out” standard. To maintain safety, two firefighters enter a structure fire while two remain outside. The fifth firefighter is the unit commander who must direct operations.

This would not be enough to actively fight a fire with no backup engine available, according to depot sources.

They said the ambulance will have to be parked because not enough personnel will be available to drive it.

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