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Closed Lexington Fire Station Affects Man in Health Emergency

Reported by: Christine Winter
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Updated: 4/19/2012 12:38 am
A health emergency is bringing more attention to the temporary closing of some Lexington fire stations, known as brownouts.

Firefighters say a 65-year-old man started having chest pains Wednesday morning and tried to drive himself to the hospital.

When the pain got worse, he pulled into Fire Station 15 at Shillito Park.

But it was closed as part of the city's rolling brownouts.

Battalion Fire Chief Ed Davis says, "It's a money issue plain and simple, for everybody. Every citizen of Fayette County, including me."

The Fire Department was already struggling with budget cuts in a rough economy.

And when 41 people retired in January, it tightened its belt even more.

Speaking for the City, Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason says, "We've made an intentional decision to not incur the type of rampant overtime costs that have been done in the past with fire."

As the Department struggles to cover 285 square miles, stations are making more, and longer, runs.

And there is a delay in some emergencies, like the 8 minutes it took for a crew from the Southland Drive station to get to Shillito Park to help the man with chest pains.

Davis says, "We do the best with what we have, and no one can ever for sure say an outcome would have been different. We can however say that more is better as far as public safety is concerned, always."

The city is hiring 25 new firefighters.

They're set to start 4 months of training in early May.

In the meantime, the Department is facing even more brownouts with summer vacations.

The Mayor's proposed budget includes 2 more classes to join the Department in the next fiscal year.
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