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United Yuma Firefighters Association calls for action after Prop 206 affects public safety

Firefighters Association calls for...

YUMA, Ariz. - The United Yuma Firefighter's Association is calling for action after the Yuma Fire Department shut down one of its fire engines at Station 5, replacing it with the ladder vehicle from Station 2.

The Yuma Fire Department presented this plan at the Yuma City Council meeting on December 21. The plan also reduced their minimum staffing from 35 firefighters to 32. 

"By reducing it to 32, those 3 people are an engine company, instead of being kept up with overtime," explains Mike Erfert with the Yuma Fire Department. "Those personnel will be used to reduce overtime with other pieces of equipment." 

"One of the drawbacks to us losing this particular fire truck is the response times," states Bill Kereluk, President of the Yuma chapter of the United Yuma Firefighter's Association.

The Association represents over 140 Firefighters from Yuma, Somerton, & San Luis. On December 30, 2016 their local president posted a letter on their website as a message of awareness to the community stressing the changes that will be implemented after the passing of Proposition 206 and not passing Proposition 407. 

The United Yuma Firefighter's Association says they know that the City is making sure that all six of the Yuma Fire Departments response areas are staffed at all times, the association says that problems may arise if the Fire Department gets two or more calls from the same response area.

"Before we had our spare rigs that were strategically placed that were backing up the busier districts," explains Kereluk. "Well now those response times are gonna be much greater because the trucks are going to have to come from a much further distance to cover."

The City says that with its current standing Yuma should not be experiencing cuts, but they want to remind the community that there are state costs as well.

"One of the things to remember is that what we're looking at in terms of the fire department is it has to do primarily with is yes the minimum wage increase, but also with a history of cost shifts by the state legislature onto cities and towns," stresses Dave Nash of the City of Yuma.

The city says that to stay within budget  either cuts or a tax increase like the one outlined in Proposition 407, a measure that was voted against in November, has to be implemented.

The Yuma Fire Department wants the community to know that they will do everything they can to maintain their existing level of service. 

"The Yuma Fire Department is dedicated to the safety and health of the citizens of the city of Yuma, and we'll do everything we can to try to see to their needs," states Erfert.

The United Yuma Firefighters Association wants the community to know that they are working with the Yuma Fire Department and the City of Yuma, and hope that a different plan can be worked out.

The Yuma Fire Department says that they are preparing for the new budget to be outlined on July 1, and that they still plan on staffing the fire department. 


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