Overlapping Calls Account for 70 Percent of All Emergencies
Call volumes and overlapping calls are on the rise for Marion County Fire District #1. All this comes as the agency has reduced minimum staffing levels from 14 to 10 firefighters per shift due to budget cuts.
The fire district responded to 737 emergency calls in July, a 6.5 percent increase compared to the month before. Overlapping calls accounted for 70 percent of all emergencies, which means multiple emergencies are happening at the same time.
In May, Marion County Fire District #1 had asked voters to renew and increase its local option levy. Funding would have been used to hire additional emergency personnel and replace apparatus. When the ballot measure failed, the fire district lost 30 percent (or $2.4 million) of its operating budget for emergency services for this fiscal year.
The fire district reduced staffing, station hours and apparatus to maintain a balanced budget, which is required by law. Employees and emergency personnel also accepted cuts to wages and health care benefits.
The Board of Directors will ask voters to renew the local option levy at the original amount with no increase during the November 3 General Election. If this request is unsuccessful, the fire district will have to permanently close stations and lay off additional firefighters and paramedics.
“We must be transparent and let our community know what we are facing,” said Fire Chief Kyle McMann. “The fact is that call volumes continue to increase, and overlapping calls have skyrocketed. We are not able to provide the level of service our community requires.”