Axed with millions in deep budget cuts, the Tacoma Fire Department will be replacing some big rig trucks with pickup trucks at two of its stations. Firefighters say all residents should be alarmed.
Since 1911, Tacoma Fire Station 13 has been a staple in the community, but now, it may be something to worry about. Due to $11 million in budget cuts, the station will no longer have a fire engine. Instead, it will respond to calls in a truck.
“It’s a pickup truck. It’s the same thing you can buy off the lot,” said Ryan Mudie, President of Tacoma Professional Firefighters Local 31.
According to the union, the Chevy trucks used to be driven by supervisors. At stations 13 & 15, two firefighters will use them to provide EMS services 12 hours a day from 7am to 7pm.
“People don’t have emergencies just at certain times of the day,” said Susan Zubalick, who lives near Station 13.
In November, Tacoma firefighters went door to door to get residents engaged in helping avoid the cuts. City leaders still approved them.
“When budgets are cut, services are reduced and there will be impact in our response times,” said Jim Duggan, Tacoma Fire Chief.
Chief Jim Duggan calls it critical to optimize resources. Most of the calls at Stations 13 and 15 are medical.
“We don’t need the pump, we don’t need the 500 gallons of water, we don’t need the hose,” he said.
Two other stations are four minutes away from Station 13 and will be ready to respond to fires in the area, as well as calls after 7pm.
“Other rigs that come to cover for these rigs, these reduced staff rigs, that leaves a hole somewhere else, it’s a domino effect,” said Mudie.
Dealt a bad hand, Chief Duggan says it’s the best he can do.
“You’re not asking why this station is being closed. Instead, you’re asking why this station is having reduced hours and reduced staffing because one of our goals was to minimize station closures,” said Chief Duggan.
The fire cuts also include reduced staffing and service hours across the board, along with the closure of Port of Tacoma’s Station 6.