He added that this sort of problem can happen if someone calls in sick at the beginning of a shift, since WEMA only assigns the number of personnel to a station that are needed there.
“Saturday, Station 6 had one person on vacation and one on worker’s comp due to an injury, so when a firefighter got sick after reporting to work, we were short,” he said. “We can’t send someone out on a call if they aren’t feeling well.”
He also pointed out that if a station had to go down, Station 6 was an easy one to cover from other stations. In fact, the lieutenant on duty, David Dillehay, made the decision about which station to close based on expected numbers of calls and where other stations could be brought in to cover.“At (Station) 6, we can bring in Stations 5 or 3 or even Station 1 to help cover the area,” he said. He added that in a serious emergency he could also call Sumner County for mutual assistance in the LaGuardo area.
However, closing a station does mean response times will be a little slower, so WEMA tries to avoid actually closing one, even for a few hours.
Instead they call in part-time workers and firefighters who work for other counties, but want to pick up a few extra hours.
“When we had a similar problem last summer, we were able to hold the crew over until we could get people in to take over,” Jewel said.
Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.