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Firefighters worried response times will slow

Posted: 10:40 PM, Jan 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-15 06:51:20-05

SHEBOYGAN -- No one was laid off, but the Sheboygan Fire Department only filled four of their seven vacancies.

"No one likes cuts," said Cheif Michael Romas, Sheboygan Fire Department.

The City Administrator asked the chief to come up with a way to staff his department with less, without jepordizing safety.

"We normally start each shift with 22 people per shift. Now we have 21 per shift to start."

Chief Michael Romas says the fire department can operatre with 16 if needed. 

"The biggest issue is the response time," explained Chase Longmiller, Sheboygan Firefighters Union President.

The Union President for Sheboygan Firefighters has worked for the department for 18 years.  He says not filling those positions limits what they can do on scene. 

"Our concern is that we've lost the three personnel currently and we're still running with a five fire station model, which in turn effects the two firehouses on either the north and far south side and they're running on a regular basis with only two firefighters."

Longmiller says it takes at least three firefighters to attach a fire or begin search and rescue, the chief doesn't disagree.

"We send multiple apparatus and we combine crews to form four people minimum and then they're able to operate on the inside when all these crews get here," explained Romas.

The president says that's not enough.

"Every minute and every second counts today," said Longmiller.

The Fire Department is working with the city on a plan to combine two fire houses into one.  This is an idea welcomed by the chief and union president.