With the start of the new year, Peoria’s city budget cuts also go into effect.
Meaning, the Peoria Fire Department is seeing its Rescue 1 and 2 companies close.
It wasn’t too long ago, we were talking about brown outs, essentially where several local fire stations were closed for a temporary amount of time.
Now, we’re talking permanent closures of two rescue trucks.
“We’ve known this is coming,” said Ryan Brady, Peoria Firefighters Local 50. “It’s disheartening.”
At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Peoria Firefighters Local 50, a labor union, posted to Facebook saying that after answering in excess of 20,000 calls in 2018, Peoria firefighters would begin 2019 with two fewer companies available every day.
“It’s scary because you as a person that takes an oath of office to do this, and understands some of the dangers that you face,” said Brady. “You have to know that when you continue to stack the deck against you, the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor, bad things will happen.”
The city decided on the cuts late last year after council worked to combat a $6 million budget deficit.
“We have one of the best fire departments,” said City Manager Patrick Urich. “I would put up anywhere in the Midwest, and I think that what you’ll see is the level of service they provide will still be second to none.”
Other firemen are sympathizing with the two closures.
Tim Gobat works for Evanston Fire Department commented on Local 50’s Facebook post saying “the people of Peoria need to speak at the polls as they are the ones ultimately being discarded as well as the firefighters.”
But it’s not just other first responders, Jill Sidell from Bartonville also commented saying “shame on the city council. Just wait…when it affects one of their family members it will change. Very sad for our community.”
“We’re going to be tasked with doing more with less,” said Brady. “
Brady said this will not stop our local first responders from saving lives and making a positive impact in our community.
City Manager Patrick Urich says leaders know cuts, taxes, and fees, won’t continue to fix budget problems.
That’s why they’re looking at growth and expansion in 2019.