Lexington firefighters union asking council for another ambulance

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) Lexington's firefighters union says it is asking council to include money in the city's upcoming budget to pay for another ambulance, as well as 12-15 people to staff it.

Union officials say not having the ambulance creates a ripple effect that takes away from the city's fire and E.M.S. protection.

More and more, says Chris Bartley, president of the Lexington Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 526, all of the city's ambulances are out on calls at the same time.

"The population's getting older, the city's growing, you can even contribute the heroin addictions and the run volumes for those on a daily basis, that adds to the taxing of our service," Bartley told WKYT's Garrett Wymer.

Bartley says the city has several back-up ambulances that are empty and ready to go if needed. If all the other ambulances are out on calls, and another call comes in, he says crews from a fire truck shift over to the ambulance and respond to the call.

"You have a closing of a fire engine, you have less fire protection or EMS protection in that area," Bartley said.

Bartley said it happened again Wednesday afternoon at Fire Station No. 1. He tweeted that downtown was "lacking fire protection" at that point, because he said it would take longer for crews from other stations to get to an emergency there.

It all would, of course, come with a price tag. Bartley said a new ambulance would cost about $300,000. The cost for workers to staff it would be about $100,000 for each person, including benefits and everything else, he said, a total of $1.2 million for a 12-person team (to staff it for a full three shifts per day) or $1.5 million for a 15-person team.

The mayor's budget proposal did not include funding to staff a new ambulance, so the union is working with council members ahead of their recommendations and report-out to try to get it added.

Of the mayor's budget proposal, 54 percent is devoted to public safety. Mayor Gray's proposal includes hiring 30 new police officers and six safety officers, while adding a fourth sector to the police department.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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