One of the big discussion points this afternoon when the St. Paul City Council approves its 2012 budget will be whether to maintain the Rescue Squad 2 unit at the West Seventh Fire Station.
Mayor Chris Coleman recommends shutting it down, and using the saved money to keep other fire units at full strength. Some council members have questioned that plan, saying it would add to the rescue response time in parts of the city.
Coleman is relying on a recommendation from Fire Chief Tim Butler, who says in a letter to the mayor that he’d rather use the Rescue Squad 2 money elsewhere:
“Decommissioning Squad 2 and adding back $186,000 will virtually eliminate brown outs [cutting back on equipment and manpower] and keep all remaining medic and fire suppression rigs in service daily, and a sufficient command staff on duty to handle most incidents …
“Bottom line: the decommissioning of Squad 2 offers the best balance of citizen and Firefighter safety given the current 2012 proposed budget. Although you have begun the long process of improving the Fire Department’s budgetary support since the devastating cuts in the 1980s and 1990s, we still have a long ways to go, sir. I strongly believe that the budget as proposed (with the $186,000) will enable us to provide safe, effective, efficient service to the residents of Saint Paul, and keep the Firefighters safe.”
Some councils members will be looking for other cuts in order to keep Squad 2 intact, so we’ll see how it turns out.