By Oil City Staff, Oil City News on April 27, 2019
CASPER, Wyo. — The Mills Professional Fire Fighters Association is calling the recent announcement that the Town of Mills will be laying off most fire department staff “retaliatory.”
In a press release sent to media on Saturday morning, president of the Mills Professional Fire Fighters Jeremy Todd calls the move “inexcusable.”
A Thursday press release issued by the Town of Mills said that Mills will contract with outside agencies after June 30 to provide daily fire and emergency services.
Mills’ nine firefighters will be laid off, with only a fire administrator kept on to conduct services like inspections. Mills Mayor Seth Coleman told Oil City on Friday that the Town of Mills is in talks with the Mills Fire Department following the Town Council’s decision.
Coleman said that Mills is in talks with the Mills Fire Department, Natrona County and the Town of Bar Nunn. He said the plan is to transition back toward a volunteer fire service model, but contract with Bar Nunn or Natrona County to provide fire services until re-establishing a volunteer service becomes feasible.
The response from the Mills Professional Fire Fighters Association claims that the group was in “contract negotiations” between the town and the association.
The full statement from the Mills Professional Fire Fighters Association is below, as received.
The city of Mills will soon be without its own fire fighters to respond when citizens call 9-1-1 after the city announced that it will be eliminating all of its career frontline fire fighters. The retaliatory move comes in the middle of contract negotiations between the town administration and the Mills Professional Fire Fighters Association’s (MPFFA).
“This is inexcusable” said Jeremy Todd, president of the Mills Professional Fire Fighters. “If Mills fire fighters are eliminated, 9-1-1 response times will increase when the community needs us most. Simply put, the Town of Mills is gambling with public safety and pointing fingers instead of sitting and working with fire fighters to keep our fire department ready to respond to keep our neighborhood safe.”
The current contract between MPFFA and the Town of Mills is set to expire later this summer and instead of continuing talks, the town administration has decided, without listening to public input, to eliminate the fire department. “Both sides agree on almost all issues, including pay,” Todd said. “For the Town to walk away from the table and just eliminate the fire fighters protecting this community is just as shocking to us as it is to the citizens we serve.”
Todd expressed concerns over what happens next to provide fire and emergency medical services to the town. “Mills Professional Fire Fighters are dedicated to serving the citizens of this community. Relying on surrounding communities is not a plan that gives our town the protection it needs and deserves. We encourage the administration of the Town of Mills to come back to the table and do what is right for Mills… keep the fire department open.”
Mills Professional Fire Fighters Association Press Release