Arlington Firefighters' Union Sounds Alarm on Low Staffing Numbers

The union that represents Arlington firefighters says the department is staffed ‘at a dangerously low level today.’

According to the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association, there are 77 firefighters on duty today, below the minimum level of 84.

The union says staffing will reportedly be allowed to fall to 73 firefighters before others are added on.

When every second counts, Arlington residents count on firefighters.

“These dudes are beasts,” said Payton Carter. “Arlington Fire is awesome. I watched them get someone out of a car. They’re going to save this person’s life.”

While Arlington and nearby Pantego firefighters responded to a two-car crash on West Park Row within minutes, the union that represents Arlington’s crew is sounding the alarm.

The association says the department is not staffed well enough to respond to the city’s emergency needs. As a result, according to the union, it places citizens and firefighters at a higher risk.

According to online records for the 2016 fiscal year, the department response time for fires and medical emergencies was slightly slower than the response goal time of about 5 minutes.

“I can’t imagine not having enough people to handle everything that’s happening in Arlington,” said Carter.

He has friends in the department.

“They’re grossly underpaid, they work extremely hard all day,” he said. “[The city] needs to take care of these guys. I couldn't’t do what they do and they’re invaluable to our community.”

In response to the union’s concern, Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson tells NBC 5, “no primary emergency response unit in the Arlington Fire Department is operating with fewer than three crew members, which has been the minimum staffing number used by the department for more than 30 years. The bottom-line is that the citizens and visitors of Arlington are safe. The Arlington Fire Department is staffed and prepared to respond to every emergency.”

The fire department has 357 authorized positions, which include civilian positions.

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