Firefighter union leader makes Kings Co visit

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The union leader representing more than 30 thousand firefighters in California wrapped up his tour of the Central Valley.

On Tuesday he visited the Kings County Fire Department in hopes of solving some of the problems the agency is facing financially.

California Professional Firefighters Association President Lou Poulsen met with Kings County firefighters Tuesday morning. Among the topics discussed - the financial challenges facing rural fire departments.

This meeting was aimed at maximizing limited resources.

"I think there's room for improvement and no matter you're rural or metropolitan fire department and I think all fire departments continue to strive to make safety," Kings County Fire Chief Bill Lynch said.

Safety always will be their number one priority, but budget constraints leave fire departments like Kings County with one firefighter running an engine company by themselves.

That puts a firefighters safety at risk.

But Fire Chief Bill Lynch says they're working with county administrators to remedy the problem.

"We do have some alternatives, some staffing alternatives that we use on a daily basis to help alleviate that or offset that. But we are working diligently to eliminate those one-one-one staff stations," Lynch said.

Fire departments, especially rural ones, have historically relied heavily on volunteer staff to help them fight and contain fires.

But CPFA President Lou Paulson says the deteriorating volunteer numbers aren't going up anytime soon.

"The problem with volunteers nowadays is just being able to find folks that are willing to devote the amount of time necessary to be adequately trained to be a volunteer firefighter and then be able to give up their time," Paulson said.

Chief Lynch says despite his department's struggles they haven't laid off anyone in the past year.

In the meantime the local firefighter association is sponsoring an independent study to help prove the dire need for funding.

These firefighters may end up being the latest casualty in a county budget chopping block.

But they're getting all the help they can get to make sure saving lives continues to be the priority.

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kings county, budget cuts, local, tommy tran
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