A dispute over staffing levels has erupted between the Dayton (OH) firefighters union and the fire chief following accusations by the union that budget cuts has led to slower response times, reports the Dayton Daily News.
The debate was sparked by a fire that destroyed 11 apartments and more than five businesses. More than 20 people were displaced, but none was injured.
One man was arrested on suspicion of arson.
Firefighters arrived at the fire at 12:08 a.m., about four minutes after the call was received Thursday to find what started as a couch fire in an alley had spread to two apartment/commercial buildings.
Staff reductions in recent years have forced the city to put in place brown outs for engines 2 and 8, said Fire Chief Herbert Redden III.
The station — two blocks away from the fire — was closed because of a staffing decision to avoid overtime, a practice in place because of the budget cuts, according to International Association of Firefighters, Dayton Local 136, officials. The nearest station to respond was 1.2 miles from the scene.
“The more distant response added several key minutes before the first apparatus was on scene and allowed significant time for the fire to grow,” said union president Gaye Jordan.
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