DES MOINES, Iowa–There is good news for Des Moines residents.
The Des Moines Association of Professional Firefighters announced Medic 4 at 9th and University and Medic 6 at SE 6th and Hartford will be placed into full service starting Monday February 23rd.
“It`s a relief. We`re still not all the way there, but it`s a great accomplishment. We’ve worked hard, the local unions worked real hard to get this accomplished,” says Des Moines Association of Professional Firefighters Union President Joe Van Haalen.
Van Haalen says Medic 1 at 15th and Mulberry will be taken out of service and the paramedics reallocated to Medic 4 and Medic 6.
Medic 4 and Medic 6 were taken out of service in the Spring of 2012 due to budget cuts.
Union leaders hope this move will help improve response times and better positions the medics throughout the city instead of focusing on just the downtown area.
“It better allocates the resources within the city so not everything is centered downtown where we seem to be the busiest. It redistributes that workload around the city a little bit easier,” says Van Haalen.
Des Moines City Council Member Joe Gatto also pushed for the move.
“It`s good for the entire city, it`s going to provide a better service for the entire city,” says Gatto.
Gatto says a study highlighting the areas lacking within the Des Moines Fire Department also helped lead to the changes.
“Working with the Chief, and working with the City Manager, and working with the Council, we saw the need and we addressed it as a unit and got it taken care of,” says Gatto.
However, Van Haalen says there is still more work that needs to be done.
“We also know we’re not quite there yet because this is simply a reallocation of some resources and the bigger picture is going to be getting some bodies in there,” says Van Haalen.
The union plans to work with the city to secure federal grants that Van Haalen says would be used to hire 15 new firefighters and medics by this Fall.
“If we can accomplish that, that`s going to be a real big step in bringing us back to service that we feel like the city needs and it will keep us safer in performing our job,” says Van Haalen.
Van Haalen says that would bring the city back to the numbers it had prior to the 2012 budget cuts.
His hope is to have new staff on the Des Moines Fire Department by the Fall.