Texas officials OK more staffing for apparatus

Bryan firefighters applauded the city's decision to increase staffing levels

The Eagle

BRYAN, Texas — The Bryan City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday evening that could increase minimum staffing levels for the fire department over the next 10 years.

Its passage was met with applause, both from firefighters who showed up at City Hall and from the council itself. The resolution states the city will now strive to increase the minimum staffing level to four firefighters on each truck, and give an aide to each battalion chief within the next decade.

“It provides more efficient operations — obviously more people on the scene helps to do the job better and more safely,” said Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. “This is important to us.”

McGregor said the fire department currently staffs three firefighters on each truck, but many fire service regulatory agencies recommend staffing each truck with four. He said many cities nationwide strive to achieve a four-firefighter minimum staffing level on each truck.

By the time it is fully implemented in 2023, 33 new positions will be created. The staff increase would be funded through the general fund, and the approximate annual cost when fully implemented is $2 million in today’s dollars.

The number of positions that can be added each year will depend on how much funding is available. City Manger Kean Register said the city will be adding six new positions starting with the new fiscal year in October.

“It is a big commitment on the part of the city,” Register said. “It does impact budget, but it’s something that we can do over a period of time.”

The resolution does not commit future councils to fund additional positions, but encourages them to continue increasing the staff each year.

McGregor said the fire department will begin staffing four firefighters on the ladder truck, which goes to every fire, and then start increasing staffing on the engines in the coming years.

“This department was good, but we’re gonna make it even better,” McGregor said. “It’s just the next step in the process to keep the department moving forward.”

Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski thanked McGregor and fire department officials for their work.

“Our council is very supportive of our first responders,” Bienski said. “Anything that’s better and safer and makes our department more efficient is important to us.”

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