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Firefighter retirements could have big impact on Lexington

By: Brittany Pelletz Email
By: Brittany Pelletz Email

It's among the largest number of retirements for the Lexington Fire Department. Firefighters have been preparing for it and now the date is quickly approaching.

In just a couple of days, the Lexington Fire Department will be losing nearly 40 firefighters due to retirements.

"We are expecting more than our usual or typical number of retirees," says Rick Jordan, Asst. Chief for the Lexington Fire Department.

The retirements plus resignations will bring the manpower on the department from 526 down to 484 firefighters for the city. This will make it the lowest staffing number since 2000.

"We're looking at being down 13 to 14 firefighters per each shift. That number equates to the number on each apparatus on the streets," adds Jordan.

The impact will result in some equipment temporarily being taken out of service and could even lead to longer response times.

"The potential for that does exist. Again, we're going to try and minimize that by rotating companies of closures around town," says Jordan.

Chief Rick Jordan recognizes there is a need for a new fire academy, but it's not that easy, "It comes down to money and in these economic times, there is not a lot of that laying around."

Most of these upcoming retirees have been fighting fires in Lexington for 25 years, which means the department will not only be losing manpower but also years of experience.

Now the Lexington Fire Department is left waiting and hoping to fill a new fire academy soon.

Mayor Jim Gray says he is currently reviewing staffing levels for the Lexington Fire Department.

Lexington fire officials say that even if finances allow for a new academy, it will take several months to find qualified applicants and to train them.

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