By Olivia Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org
IAFF Local 2141, the union that represents more than 250 of the city’s firefighters, medics and EMTs, wrote an open letter to city leaders on Monday calling for the city to fully fund the department as certain emergency services have been cut back or eliminated completely, according to a news release.
“ … The City’s prolonged mismanagement and underfunding of our Fire Department has not only demonstrated that the City Manager and/ or City Council do not properly support our emergency personnel, but that they are actively deciding to provide diminished emergency services at the risk of potential harm to the citizens, businesses and visitors of Alexandria,” read the letter, which was addressed to City Manager Mark Jinks, Mayor Justin Wilson and City Council.
IAFF Local 2141 outlined in the letter three main issues: not having advanced life support personnel on all emergency response vehicles, the disbanding of the Heavy Rescue Squad and the potential upcoming shutdown of an entire fire station.
Specifically, some ambulances are now in service without having any Advanced Life Support personnel on board. The Heavy Rescue Squad, trained to handle extreme situations such as swift water rescue and vehicle extrication, has been disbanded in order to help alleviate staffing crises in other areas of the department. Finally, IAFF predicts there is a possibility that an entire fire station could shut down if the staffing shortage continues, according to the letter.
“It’s a shame that, for a city that we’re willing to put our lives on the line for, they’re not even willing to provide us with the necessary tools to do that,” Josh Turner, president of IAFF Local 2141, said in a statement. “It puts our medics, firefighters and civilians all at a much higher risk. A risk that is completely unnecessary.”
To combat the issue, IAFF Local 2141 urged city officials to allocate funding toward hiring an additional 70 personnel and improving the salaries, benefits and working conditions for current employees.
The union has also launched a public sign-on letter where members of the community can show their support for funding the fire department.