The City of Wheeling has a responsibility to provide an adequate, well trained, well equipped, fire department for the protection of life and property for its citizens. According to the article in The Intellingencer titled, "Firefighters Union 12 Concerned About Cuts," dated June 26, the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, require four firefighters per engine. The fact that Wheeling has two firefighters per engine is shocking, and irresponsible. The money spent on equipping and maintaining a fire engine and a station to keep it in, is wasted if it is not staffed adequately.
The safety of the firefighters should be considered at the forefront of any argument to reduce funding. How can a firefighter be expected to risk his life, if he has absolutely no backup? Common sense would dictate that in the case of a fire, the first truck on the scene would need personnel to operate the pump and equipment on the engine. That leaves one man to enter a fire for search, rescue, and to fight the fire on his own. If instead,they have to wait for backup, precious minutes and resources are wasted. This situation is absurd and defies logic.
While it is true that the population of Wheeling has declined, there are still plenty of vacant wooden homes and industrial spaces that are in peril of burning and, taking with them, the people and property that our firefighters are expected to protect.
Rather than discussing the reduction of firefighting staff, we should be discussing ways to fund and train more firefighters, to at the very least, the minimum recommended levels.
James J. Roche