Brainerd, Minnesota, could save as much as $265,000 per year by relying entirely on an on-call force of firefighters, but is it worth the savings?
That's the subject of a debate between city officials and firefighter union representatives, who say that doing away with Brainerd's full-time fire crews could seriously delay their emergency response times and pose a potential danger to the community, MPR News reports.
But some harsh financial realities have forced Brainerd to consider the measure, with City Administrator Jim Thoreen telling the station, "the essential problem is costs exceeding existing revenues."
According to the Brainerd Dispatch, the Minnesota Professional Firefighters union argues that paid on-call fire crews could take up to three times longer to respond to a blaze, and that restructuring Brainerd's fire department in such a way would hurt the city's ISO rating – a classification insurance companies use to calculate rates in a certain area.
However, Fire Chief Tim Holmes says the department is already not a full-time one, and that maintaing the current model is not "economically feasible," the paper notes.
Currently, the department has five full-time firefighters and 38 on-call firefighters, KARE 11 reports.
The station says the city council could vote on the restructuring "as early as Monday."