City of Baxter starting to explore preliminary numbers to have full-time firefighters.
Chief Matthew White said that currently there are only 12 part-time firefighters during the day, and 14 volunteers at night.
“It’s important for us especially, and I believe all the council are on board with it, they’re looking too to make this a safer place for the citizens to live, and provide the best service we can,” White said. “We know it’s that time, where we keep growing and we keep adding residents in. We want to provide the best protection to those moving in.”
White said that it feels fantastic to finally have a preliminary plan in place. He said that he’s proud that the city is in a place where they can even consider it in the budgetary processes for next year.
White said that the biggest hurdles in this process will be budgetary and finding the personnel. According to a Monday night presentation, the fire department recommends adding one firefighter to three shifts for a total of three new firefighters. He said that ideally, they would hire these firefighters to start simultaneously to prevent uneven distribution of personnel.
White said that right now, the on-call/voluntary personnel will respond to calls from their own homes, which increases response time. He said that cutting down that time will be a key benefit.
“We’ve been working on this plan for the last several months and discussing some budgetary issues with it,” White said. “We’re trying to add some full-time personnel that would be here 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. it would be putting somebody here to help protect and cover and actually respond in the event of an emergency.”