Fire chief seeks more firefighters, ambulance in budget


June 19, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The budget wish list of Fire Chief Carlos Escalante includes six new firefighters and a new ambulance.

Escalante said Monday he hopes the 2001-2002 Calexico budget will allow him to augment the ranks of a Fire Department thinned by attrition and injury.

"We have the same problems as the Police Department in regard to keeping people here in Calexico and we also have five guys on disability," Escalante said Monday.

He continued: "We've got guys with back strains, one had a stroke recently and one has a chronic disease."

Escalante and other heads of city departments will meet with City Manager Richard Inman and the City Council for a budget workshop starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Woman's Improvement Club, 320 Heber Road.


Escalante said the Fire Department is operating with 21 firefighters.

If all five of the injured come back and he is allowed to hire six new firefighters, the department would have 32 firefighters/paramedics..

"That will allow us to easily comply with all of the recommendations in effect right now that will become law soon," he said.

Four firefighters have to be on a truck when it is sent on a structure fire call. That's not a law but a "recommendation."

When the recommendation becomes law, it could pose some problems for the department because there are only three firefighters stationed at the Grant Street fire house.

Since a normal shift at the downtown station consists of four firefighters, the three who work at the substation on Grant Street need to be called if there is a big fire.

This creates a situation with understaffed trucks and spread out manpower.

"If someone gets hurt we have to make very serious decisions," Escalante said.

He added: "We're very short right now and it is only going to get worse."

He held up plans for a planned golf course and hotel complex along Highway 111.

"We will have to provide coverage for that and for all of the new homes that are going into the eastern part of town," Escalante said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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