Department of Forestry to scale back services

Officials with the Energy and Environment Cabinet said they made the decision to redistrict and cut back staffing once they found a hole in their budget of over one million dollars.

"It's going to be a bit more difficult than it was before to answer the call to get to the wildfires as quickly as we were but we still feel like we can do that job," said Dick Brown, Communications Director for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The new district set-up will include two regions in Eastern Kentucky, including headquarters in Rowan County and Perry County. Brown said that they will likely have to call on local fire departments more often during heavy wildfires.

"We have a really good working relationship with those people. they do call us for assistance pretty often," said Brad Smith, Hazard Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief.

But Smith said that those extra calls could affect them negatively.

"Our primary focus is to protect the residents in the city of Hazard and the surroundings, our coverage area. when we're doing forest fires which we don't have the equipment to fight, we're taking away from what we normally do with structural fire fight, residential fire fight," said Smith.

Smith also said that it is not a burden now, but it could be in the future.

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