Downtown Clovis Fire Station Closes Due to Budget Cuts

July 2, 2009 8:09:39 AM PDT
A Clovis firefighter calling in sick was enough to shut down the city's downtown fire station Wednesday, the city's first "brown-out" after recent budget cuts. The fire chief says he expects it to be closed about 80 percent of the next fiscal year.A big red and white sign posted on Clovis' Fire Station one explained the station is closed because of local and state budget cuts. For some of downtown's business owners and residents, the news was unsettling. "We've always felt secure that we have the fire station downtown, knowing that if something happened, you're right there," said Carmela Liberta, the owner of Nonnie's House Boutique in downtown Clovis.

Downtown resident Kenneth Gilbert was unaware of the station's closure, but also concerned. "This area has a lot of elderly. Strokes happen all the time, it's a regular occurrence. We really need them," said Gilbert.

The city's fire chief says there's no easy way to put it, the city's fire service will be affected. "We're going to have longer response times. I don't have a lot of good news in those equations. They are facts we are going to deal with the facts. Our firefighters are very good at what they do and they're going to respond based on the available resources in the situation that presents itself to us," said Chief Rick Bennett.

The chief expected the first brown out to happen Friday but a firefighter calling in sick Wednesday was enough to put them over the edge in terms of minimum staffing. When Fire Station One is closed, firefighters from Fire Station Two will absorb some of downtown's emergency calls, along with the city's three other stations. But all four stations, and all the firefighters on duty, still aren't enough to respond to an actual fire. "Right now, with Station One closed, we cannot fully staff a structure fire without somebody else's help," said Clovis Fire Captain Todd Adams.

That someone else was Fresno County Wednesday night, when a fire broke out in Clovis home, within Fire Station One's normal boundaries. While the chief calls the brown out temporary, he does foresee the station being closed 80 percent of the year. He said the decision to brown out this station will be made on a day to day basis, dependant on staffing.

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