Local firefighters applaud Peoria City Council decision to bring back engine

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local firefighters are praising Peoria City Council’s decision on Tuesday to restore a fire engine that had been cut last year due to pandemic financial concerns.

Ryan Brady, president and CEO of Peoria Firefighters Local 50, said response times have suffered as a consequence of losing that engine. He said fire calls are up roughly 30% this year because the delayed response times can turn a small fire into a large one.

“I’m happy that the council, under the leadership of the mayor at the recommendation of even the city manager going back a week ago, recommending and identifying this need because it’s crucial to the safety of firefighters,” he said.

Peoria Fire Chief Jim Bachman said he was excited to learn the news.

“We definitely have struggled with response times and other things like that. This is huge for the department. It’s a boost in morale,” he said.

Bachman said they are on track for the highest number of calls ever, close to 22,000 runs, so bringing back the engine is a big deal.

“It’s huge in the resiliency factor – giving us more manpower to fight the fires and giving us the ability to respond to places quicker,” he said.

Peoria City Council voted 6-4 to restore the fire engine. Two of the council members who voted against the measure said it was due to procedural concerns.

“It was absolutely rushed. If we would’ve had a discussion like we were anticipating, we could’ve had the same outcome. It could’ve been a unanimous vote for that matter. But the fact they wanted to do it without having the due diligence is just beyond the pale,” said Third District Councilman Tim Riggenbach.

“From a parliamentary procedure standpoint, it was the wrong way to go,” said At-Large Councilman John Kelly. “This kind of rapid-fire, coming out of nowhere ordinance, is I think wrong, and not certain I don’t think what our public expects of us.”

The fire engine will be back on the streets of Peoria on Monday, Nov. 1.

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