Reporting burning home could get expensive

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 02/26 2014 11:32AM

Updated 03/05 2014 10:50AM

Latest: 10:03 pm, 3/4/14, Tuesday
DANVILLE -- Firefighters' jobs are safe, but it looks like you'll have to pay to have them come to your home. The city was considering cutting ten jobs and adding a tax to help make up a $1 million budget deficit. Now, that option is off the table.

The new plan involves people being billed $300 for calling the fire department and EMS responding to your home, plus, $50 per firefighter, per hour. The final vote on the budget will be made in April.
Update: 5:05 pm, 2/26/14, Wednesday
DANVILLE -- The city council will delay its vote on possible cuts to the fire department. The city is more than $1 million in debt. The city council is looking at ways to save money and cutting firefighters is one option, but the community spoke up. Now the city council will look at other options including a tax which would save those jobs.
Original: 9:57 pm, 2/25/14, Tuesday
DANVILLE -- People are making it known, they do not want any firefighters cut from their jobs. The city is more than $1 million in the hole and cutting ten firefighters from the department could be the way out. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine follows the discussion.

The number of possible cuts has varied in the past, but now officials are proposing a solid number. Neighbors voiced concerns at Tuesday's city council meeting.

A retired firefighter says cutting jobs or closing a station will put people in serious danger. In 1971, Ken Broderick and the rest of the "Magnificent Seven" took the oath to protect the lives and property of people here.

"The department was going to hire one firefighter and they decided to beef the manpower up so they ended up hiring seven of us."

He knows all too well the difference one man can make.

"Three of us were trapped in the basement and couldn't find our way out. Our bags ran out of air. Smoke was heavy. You couldn't see your hand in front of you."

They radioed for help and got it from an extra firefighter on his team.

"They put a rope on him and showed us the way out. Without him, I might not have been here today."

That's why he told the city council cutting firefighter jobs is a bad decision.

"The city is growing. The population might have decreased, but the city limits have increased. It's going to hurt response times."

And time is crucial. Broderick says a fire can double in size every sixty seconds.

"This happened last year on Logan Street. There was a woman trapped on a deck up above the garage. Firefighters got there in a reasonable amount of time."

That woman is Marti Washington.

"I just owe them everything. I called them at 1:16 in the morning. They were there by 1:22. If they take one of the fire departments out, it's going to cut response time and it's going to be people like me won't be here."

She owes it all to the brave men of the Danville Fire Department.

"We have nothing left, but I have me and I'm still here. I just love them all."

The city council will make a final vote next Tuesday. In the past, the mayor has said he doesn't want to cut jobs, but money has to come from somewhere.

Options available to the city council include, no cuts, but a nearly $8/month tax on water bills. It would get the city to the $1 million needed. A second option is a $6.50 month tax, giving the city more than $915,000. The final option is to cut ten firefighters with a $3.50 tax, saving more than $515,000.

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