Homeland Security Money Will Put More Firefighters On The Job


UPDATED: Friday August 24, 2012 8:37 AM

The Marion City Fire Department has been cut by $1.4 million over the last three years.

"It's been tough on us. Since about 2008, we've gone through some budget crunches," said Marion City Fire Chief Tony Zwolle.

It means that every time a fire truck or paramedics respond to a call, it takes longer to arrive.

"The guys are doing more with less. They're doing the best they can," Zwolle said.

A department that should be staffed at 65 is working with 48. They have to use rolling 'brown outs' which means a fire station can be closed when there is not enough staff to fill it.

"One part of town is unprotected 80 percent of the time. We get there, but it takes us an extra couple of minutes, which is crucial," said Zwolle.

On Thursday, the fire department learned that help is on the way.

"It's a great thing for Marion," said Captain Mike Makowski, City Fire Inspector.

A federal grant will provide $1.4 million from the Department of Homeland Security. It will be used to hire additional firefighters.

It is meant to hire 11 firefighters, but that could change.

"City Council has the final say in what we do with this. We'll use it to the best of our ability whether that means one guy, three guys, six guys, or 11 guys," said Zwolle.

The funds will be distributed over the next two years.

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