Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013
Firefighters Needed in Metropolis
METROPOLIS -- The Metropolis fire department is understaffed. The fire chief says he needs to hire three full time firefighters, but city leaders say they simply don't have the money.
City officials say the budget is tight. Revenue from the town's riverboat casino is down considerably. All city offices, including the fire department, are working with less.
Casino revenue helped build the Metropolis fire station. Now, the lack of gambling money is keeping the department from operating at full strength.
"Man power is number one priority at this point in time," said Fire Chief Jason Morris.
Morris asked for more firefighters in his annual budget request to the city council. Right now, the department has two vacant full time positions. That number could go to three if an injured firefighter chooses not to return. That puts more pressure on eight on-call firefighters
"Sometimes, when we have a call everybody shows up. Sometimes, there's three or four of them that show up, that's it," Morris explained to the city council.
Revenue from Harrah's casino has been falling since 2008. The mayor says despite that, the city was able to continue all of its services without laying anyone off.
"We had a tremendous amount of people that retired in the last five years, we've not replaced any of those," said Mayor Billy McDaniel.
The city gets $1 for every person that enters the casino and a small percentage of its total revenue. With less of that money coming in, Chief Morris and other department heads have to be creative.
"There's money out there, you just have to know where it is at, and go chase it down," Morris said.
The department has been able to upgrade and purchase new equipment through grants. Whatever the grants didn't cover, the city has been able to pick up the slack, but nothing can replace a good hand on the job.
"It's hard, people got to really pull together and help each other out," Morris explained.
If the injured fire fighter can't return to work, the city could find money to hire a new one. It's something the council will discuss in the coming weeks.
Wind: 0 MPH
Humidity: 93 %