Monday fire a challenge for short-staffed Findlay department - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Monday fire a challenge for short-staffed Findlay department

FINDLAY, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The Findlay Fire Department is speaking out after an apartment fire Monday.

Firefighters say the fire on North Main Street is one of the first major fires they've had to battle since layoffs hit the department. They say it ended well this time, but they are concerned about the future.

"We don't have a backup anymore, so all of our resources yesterday at that fire were committed to that fire," said Matt Cooper, president of Findlay Firefighters Local 381.

Cooper says if another fire had occurred in town at the same time, no one could have responded.

The crew rescued four people from the top floor of the Hillcrest Apartments using ladders, but they say there was a bigger issue at hand than the flames: Most of the men on scene were working double duties, many of them were working overtime.

"In our minds, as firefighters who do whatever we can to make life better for somebody in need, that's not really providing a great service," Cooper said.

Ten firefighter positions were cut in May, and the department has been getting by with a smaller staff since then.

A full staff would be 74 firefights, but Findlay has only 57. Cooper says they haven't had 74 since 2008. They say instead of investing in more firefighters, the city is putting money into sidewalks.

The City of Findlay took in $4.8 million extra in business income tax revenue this year, but according to a city ordinance, all windfall money must go toward capital improvements like new sidewalks or building repairs, or the rainy day fund.

The mayor's office did not comment on why the money hasn't been used to re-hire laid-off firefighters.

"They're just sitting at home," Cooper said. "They're not being used as an asset for the city, so we would like to see them come back to work. They city has the money to do that, we're short staffed, it just makes sense."

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