By Natasha Robin | January 8, 2018 at 9:27 PM CST – Updated August 15 at 5:04 PM
BERNARD PARISH, LA (WVUE) – Last Wednesday the Arabi fire station in St. Bernard Parish was closed due to budget constraints.
“Our fire chief submitted his budget. In that 2018 budget we had no overtime in it. We’re trying to reorganize the way we think and how we man our fire stations in St. Bernard Parish,” says Parish President Guy McInnis.
Right now, the St. Bernard Fire Department is operating without unscheduled overtime money.
Parish President Guy McInnis says since the beginning of the year, manpower issues closed one station for a 24-hour period.
President of the St. Bernard Fire Fighters Union, Reggie Bergeron, says while only one station has closed so far, other stations are being affected because fire fighters and equipment are being rotated between them.
“So what they did was, they took Squad 2, which is a rescue truck housed in the Poydras quarters and moved it to Engine 7’s quarters. Technically, the station is open, but the people of that area still have no fire protection,” says Bergeron.
Bergeron says the loss of equipment from some stations and the manpower issue affects response time.
“So, they have to wait for the neighboring companies to get to that area. Each fire station is spaced strategically for certain response times,” says Bergeron.
“We have an 8 mile stretch from the Violet Canal to the parish line. We have 6 fire stations, so we have plenty coverage for the citizens of our parish. They are well protected. I believe we have the best fire department in the metro area. They work hard every day,” says McInnis.
McInnis says there are 10 fire stations, 10 million dollars in the budget and 110 fire department employees.
He’s directed Chief Tommy Stone to figure out a way to keep all the parish’s fire stations open with the current budget.
“In about 30 days, our Fire Chief is putting together a plan to address those issues. We are within the budget constraints of what our authority gave us,” says McInnis.
We reached out to Chief Stone for comment but we were unable to get in touch with him.