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 —

Depot firefighters entered into an agreement May 22 with Commanding Colonel Brian L. Rogers that would allow the department to determine how it would implement the furloughs in a manner that would not understaff their response, according to another document provided to the Register.

Colonel Lee Hudson was installed as the new Blue Grass Army Depot commander June 27.

After the fire department was told last week it would not be exempt, a schedule was created in which firefighters were to begin taking furlough time Monday.

Army officials have not said if a furloughs would continue after Sept. 30, but the firefighters fear they are.

 

Depot fire department provides aid to entire county

Madison County Fire Chief Jim Cox said the depot’s fire department furloughs concern him.

Cox confirmed that county Fire Station 2 averages two certified firefighters per shift, sometimes three. During the school year, Eastern Kentucky University co-op students also will be on duty.

The mutual aid the depot firefighters provide is invaluable, Cox said.

“I depend on them very heavily,” Cox said. “They are a very, very incredible asset.”

While they mainly bolster the county fire departments’ manpower during emergencies, the depot firefighters also have extensive training in handling hazardous material situations.

Just three months ago, depot firefighters were able to identify an unknown hazardous material at the Pilot gasoline station at Exit 95 on Interstate 75 and properly dilute it, Cox said. Depot firefighters are always willing to lend a hand and work outside the depot gates, if they are available, he said.

Cox said the county calls on the depot fire department for mutual aid about 25 times a year, on average.

While the county fire department can provide mutual aid on base in the event of a depot emergency, they would not be the primary responders.

“We would come in and basically be back-up,” Cox said.

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