City could hook ladder truck

Fire Station 27, 5410 Nicollet Ave. S., could lose a fire truck and three firefighters in 2004, part of a plan the Minneapolis Fire Department said would more efficiently use resources.

The Minneapolis Fire Department’s union, Local 82, opposes the move, saying it would increase response time and reduce services to some Southwest

neighborhoods.

Assistant Fire Chief Uly Seal said the ladder truck at Station 27 and another truck at Station 15, 27th and Johnson Street N.E., have the fewest calls in the system. The department is considering a plan to eliminate those trucks and move personnel to higher-demand areas around the city, Seal said.

"We are not eliminating positions, we are distributing those personnel to different rigs," he said.

According to the Fire Department’s 2001 Annual Report, the average number of runs made that year by the city’s nine ladder units was more than 1,200; the most runs by any truck was 1,900. Ladder 8 at the 54th & Nicollet station made 632 runs, the second-lowest total.

Currently, some trucks only have three firefighters and some have four, Seal said. He is concerned the trucks have enough people "to do the job we are asking them to do," he said.

The International Association of Firefighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs say that putting four people to a truck is accepted practice.

Station 27’s boundaries are approximately Crosstown to 46th Street and Colfax to 16th avenues, staff said. The territory includes Tangletown and Windom and parts of Kenny and Lynnhurst

neighborhoods.

Station 27 has two trucks in service — Engine 27 and Ladder 8 — plus a spare vehicle. Engine 27 is the first responder to medical emergencies. Ladder 8 has the rescue team for fires and backs up Engine 27 on medical emergencies.

Seal said for the plan to work, Station 27 would need to get a "Quint," a new truck that has five basic pieces of equipment — pump, hose, water supply, ground ladders and an aerial ladder. "They would be able to do it all with one rig rather than two," he said.

Captain Tom Brown, who works out of Station 27, said the change would cut down on the number of personnel in the station for first response.

"Replacing Ladder 8 with one rig would make a longer response to certain areas around our station for medical emergencies," he said. "We would go from seven people to four people."

Seal said the earliest the change would go into effect is 2004. The City Council members have had information provided in committee, he said.

"The City Council and the mayor challenged us to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible," he said. "The chief doesn’t want to do this unless we can get the newer apparatus."

The Fire Department has held neighborhood meetings in Northeast Minneapolis regarding Station 15, and there are additional ones planned for Station 27 in Southwest Minneapolis, he said.