OR Fire Union: Station's Staffing Puts Public at Risk

"I feel like the city of Portland is kind of playing roulette with the people that live there," the vice president of the city's firefighters union said.

An Oregon firefighters union is concerned that a city fire station's reduced staffing is putting the public at risk.

"I feel like the city of Portland is kind of playing roulette with the people that live there," Isaac McLennan, the vice president of Portland Firefighters Association, Local 43, told KPTV-TV.

According to McLennan, Portland's Station 23 only has two firefighters regularly staffing the firehouse at a given time. Those firefighters also only go to calls in a rapid response vehicle, which has no hose and only "a small complement of medical gear that they can use for minor injuries," he added.

“In these situations, they show up, and they just aren’t able to do the work that they’re trying to do,” McLennan told KPTV.

The city's 30 other fire stations are staffed with four-member crews. But the department has seen a drop in the number of on-duty firefighters since 2007—169 then compared to 165 now—while Portland has seen a nearly 12 percent population increase in the past decade, said McLennan, adding that he blames the reductions on budget cuts.

The union official is lobbying for Portland to hire six more firefighters for Station 23

"We are working closely with Commissioner (Jo Ann) Hardesty’s office to identify strategies that will enable us to adequately staff fire station 23 as well as other areas that have suffered from cuts we have taken in the past," Fire Chief Sara Boone said in a statement. "Our mission is the safety of our residents and we will work creatively and tirelessly to accomplish it."

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