lunch today with a De Pere firefighter

I had lunch today with Dan Gatz, one of our firefighters, and boy did I learn a lot. It’s hard to go into any detail, but the main message I took away was that managing the staffing of our Fire Dept is a much bigger issue than just looking for savings while planning each year’s city budget. We need to take a step back and figure out where we should be with our staffing levels.

Perhaps most of my neighbors have only the information that I have. And that is by watching the evening news, and hearing the mayor or city administrator talking from their perspective, or the union rep talking from his perspective. This is all great to hear, but I want better explanations. I want to know how De Pere compares to other similar cities in the state. Are we staffed lower or higher than most others? And why?

Dan told me of someĀ independent research that shows what any city’s staffing levels should be, based on factors like population. He’s going to send me some information, so I look forward to using that as a starting point. I respect both sides of this issue, and I’m not on the city council yet, but I’m still a taxpayer and I want answers.

We need to solve this. As a citizenry, we need to agree on how we want our Fire Dept staffed. Now, it’s certainly possible that we just can’t afford what we need right now. But I hope that we can at least work toward agreeing on what we need. Once we get there, then of course we need to figure out funding.

One step at a time.