Firefighters Concerned Over Drop In Manpower

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A move that will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is making some fire fighters uncomfortable.

Several Rockford engines are running a man short, and that has some emergency responders concerned for our safety. Seven of the department's nine engines now run with three firefighters on board, instead of four. Firefighters say the change hasn't caused problems yet but are concerned it could cost them time during emergency calls, because there are fewer people to start IVs, dress wounds, and get other lifesaving tasks done. Some union members tell us they are worried about bringing these issues up publicly, saying they fear retaliation from the city.

“If there is something they want to say, they have all the ability in the world to say it. To suggest that there is going to be any retaliation is absolutely false,” says Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. “This is a very good plan that to manage the safety of the fire fighters, the safety of the public and the city's budget."

"We use people for training every day so we had many of our engines at three people during the day time. It’s one of those things, it will take a while getting accustomed to, having more of a frequency, but we have some of the best trained men and women on the Rockford Fire Department and they will continue to do a great job to the citizens as they always have," says Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten.

An independent arbitrator ruled two weeks ago in favor of this reduction in manpower. The move is expected to save the city an extra $900,000 a year.

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