PEORIA Ill.- After more than four months of discussion coupled with disagreement, the Peoria city council voted Tuesday night 6-5 on the proposal to cut two Peoria Fire Department engine companies and borrow $10 million, this will cut 22 firefighter positions.
Peoria Fire Chief Tony Ardis said the two engines will be Engine Four in District One and Engine 20 in District Five.
Councilman Denis Cyr made the motion to decommission the two fire engines and borrow $10 million for operating expenses. However, last week he voted no on that same proposal. Tuesday, Cyr was the swing vote.
Without making these cuts Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said the council would be using a lot of money from the reserves. Some council members like Chuck Grayeb said that’s a sacrifice he would be willing to make. Grayeb said the reserves are important, but should not be the focus in the middle of a crisis.
Cyr said he is not in favor of closing an engine in the district he serves, but is hopeful everything will work out.
“I am opposed to closing engine 20 but I am willing to work with Mayor Ardis, fire Chief Ardis city manager Urich, and all my colleagues around this horseshoe to try to equalize the effective response time for all the districts,” Cyr said.
Ryan Brady with Peoria Firefighters Local 50 Union said the Peoria Fire Department is not prepared for these cuts and the outcome will be catastrophic.
“We cant continue to do this, its unacceptable, its irresponsible and its flat out dangerous,” Brady said.
He said response times will be slower and firefighter’s safety will be at risk. Adding, some firehouses will have to close too.
Some council members, like Zach Oyler, think closing two engines was not enough. Following Tuesday’s decision, Oyler said council should consider freezing all capital expenses that are not currently being spent. Discussion on that proposal was deferred to the next council meeting.