Brownouts began today for the Hamilton Fire Department.
Two of the six engine companies, Station 27 on Shuler Ave., and Engine 22 located at Fire Department Headquarters on Pershing Ave. will be closed.
According to Deputy Chief Larry Gassert, the brownouts will rotate daily depending on the staffing available.
Budget cuts have forced the city to eliminate any over-time.
Late last year, Hamilton city leaders approved the layoff of 18 firefighters and the permanent closing of the Shuler Ave. station.
Deputy Chief Gassert saud all of that is still up in the air due to negotiations between the city and the firefighter's union.
The fire department also has secured a grant that could help those 18 firefighter keep their jobs.
A final decision on any layoffs or permanent closures might not come until May.
For now, when firefighters are sick or injured, the fire department could be forced to temporarily close an engine company until they are back up to full staff.
Chief Steve Dawson told Local 12, "I'm anxious about this and I'm concerned and worried about it."
Due to city budget cuts, Chief Dawson is forced to implement the brownouts. He's also faced with the planned layoffs of 18 firefighters as well as the eventual closing of Station 27. One concern is response time to a major fire like the one that turned deadly on Thanksgiving Day.
Neighbors fear the longer response time for other fire companies to cover for those who are browned out--like Station 27. Vicky Duggins is a neighbor and says, "You know they're right there if something happens a heart attack or something the fire station is right there within minutes somewhere else you got to wait five ten minutes for them to get there."
Another neighbor, Hope Warren, adds, "I used to go to that firehouse as a little girl. I used to play on the trucks and help them wash them." Warren grew up on Hamilton's East side -- and lives right around the corner from Station 27. She says browning out and eventually closing Station 27 would prove to be dangerous in her neighborhood. "Especially with the homes being so much older in this particular neighborhood you have an older house so you need to have local protection all the way around."
The coverage issues are also a major concern for the fire chief. "I'm worried about the safety of the citizens that are in those coverage areas and I'm worried about the safety of the firefighters. I'm very anxious how this works out."