Toledo's new fire class to get boost from federal dollars

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo fire department is about to get a boost to its ranks. New money is coming to the department to hire more fire fighters.

To boost the number of Toledo fire fighters that respond to everything from fires to medical runs, Toledo will be putting together a 40 person fire class. The department announced Wednesday that 6 of them will be funded through a federal grant for the next few years.

Right now the department has just under 530 members.

"We're challenged usually with staying at that number,” said Toledo Fire Chief Brian Byrd.

The city was looking to add more people to that next fire class. Chief Byrd tells 13abc that the numbers just didn't work.

"We were initially looking at 50 people but due to some cost constraints and budgetary issues we had to drop it down to 40," said Chief Byrd.

That's in part because a larger class means more people need to be pulled off the line to train those recruits, meaning overtime dollars to fill those spots.

Local 92 president Jeff Koenigseker says in an ideal world he'd like to see the staff sit somewhere around 575 members with two new fire classes.

"It's realistic from the standpoint of our need. Whether or not it’s fiscally possible that is a city issue," said Koenigseker.

All in an effort to achieve the goal of putting 4 people on each rig, something that's not happening yet but is supposed to happen by 2020. Right now only one class is happening thanks in part to these new dollars all in an effort to keep Toledoans safe.

"It allows us to maintain the necessary staffing to staff our rigs appropriately and to keep our response times where we like to see them," said Byrd.

These 40 new firefighters are not expected to give the department a long term gain in members. With expected retirements, this class is expected to keep the staffing number right about where there are at that 530 level, according to Chief Byrd.