"When any city decides to brownout a truck, they're playing roulette and it could bite them sometime now or in the future," says Lt. Chris Bartley, president of the Lexington Professional Firefighters Union.
Brownouts have hit the Lexington Fire Department. They started in late December. The most recent, Saturday, at the Richmond Road fire station where the engine there was taken out of service. And, that puts the public's safety at risk, according to Lt. Bartley.
"There's an ambulance still in the station but you're going to see a delay in fire runs and if that ambulance, which is also busy, seeing a delay in EMS response as well," explains Bartley.
These brownouts rotate through different engine companies and are enacted based on lack of firefighters available.
"They're not supposed to be browned out right after one another, like tomorrow, Engine 9 is not going to be browned out again. If they're short, it would be somewhere else," comments Lt. Bartley.
In 2011, 39 firefighters retired. Right now, there are 480 firefighters, full strength is 526. Earlier this month, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced the city will hire 25 more firefighters but Lt. Bartley says that's still not enough.
"I wish something was done sooner. At the budget meeting hearing back in December, they said they didn't expect brownouts until spring break. Past spring break, you might see 2,3, or 4 trucks out of service in the middle of the week, so it's actually hitting sort of a crisis," says Lt. Bartley.
It has people who live in Lexington worried.
"Firefighters have got to work a lot of extra time, they've got to cover more area to get the job done and that has serious ramifications for Lexington," comments Jerry Duncan.
"These firefighters put their lives on the lines for us and I think they deserve enough rest. I think they don't need to be overworked," says Peggy Crawford.
Those new firefighters are expected to finish training and hit the streets in mid-June.