The troubles and drama of Petersburg are no secret to anyone in Central Virginia, but to the residents that actually live within the city limits, it can truly be terrifying. The Fire Department seems to have taken the brunt of the budget cuts to emergency personnel departments. Firefighters took a 10% paycut last year to try and help make up for the huge amount of debt the city has found itself in.
Petersburg’s ambulances are currently out of commission leaving the weight of the emergency calls on Southside Emergency Crew and the surrounding counties and cities. Fort Lee currently has loaned a fire truck to Petersburg for use; and the surrounding localities also send mutual aid to emergency calls requiring more than medical assistance.
Gene Beemer is a retired Petersburg firefighter and to see his people in this situation is very hard for him.
“It breaks my heart,” Beemer said. “All the reserve pieces are being used as front line pieces and they’re 30 years old.” He went on to address the fact that Petersburg Fire Dept. has to rely on other localities and Southside Emergency Crew to answer EMS calls. “So there’s no EMS transportation from the fire department now which will cause a delay in patient care,”
Another problem, air packs that need to be replaced because they’re reaching their full lifespan of 12 to 18 years.
Beemer said they break on a daily basis, and, as of January 1, there’s no technician to repair them.
“If you don’t have air packs that work you can’t go inside of a burning building, if you can’t go inside of a burning building and someone is trapped inside you’re not going to be able to save them,”
The Firefighters are putting their lives on the line to help the citizens of Petersburg. It would be nice if they had the right equipment and were compensated appropriately. The citizens also would feel better to know that the people they call for help are prepared and ready for anything you need. I know that this isn’t something that can be fixed overnight, but our priorities need to be checked and we need to protect our citizens. Here’s to hope for a better 2017 in Petersburg.