Will There Be Fire Station Closures on the West Bank?

The east bank of Jefferson Parish consolidated its fire districts many years ago, and they are considering doing the same on the west bank of the parish. Jefferson Parish Council is currently conducting a study to see what would need to be done to consolidate the six west bank fire districts.

The study which was unanimously approved now needs consultants. The Jefferson Parish Council will now take between eight months to a year to find a consultant who will do the study. If the study goes as the council predicts, then it will lead to closing fire stations and putting trucks into storage. This does not sound too appealing but according to firefighter Deano Bonano, this could mean additional firefighters would need to be hired.

“If you consolidate all the districts, you can eliminate some stations, eliminate some trucks and cut back on administrative staff and costs,” he said.

Through the years, west bank fire departments have had a harder and harder time with financing and keeping firefighters. The department has both volunteer and paid firefighters. The west bank volunteer departments are run as private non-profits with their own boards.  For some of the smaller departments in the parish, it has been hard to get volunteers. The training requirements are very strict for volunteer firefighters.

These small districts are having to tap into financial reserves to hire paid staff to fill the positions not filled by volunteers. State firefighters are also not able to work in the departments because the districts are not part of the state firefighters’ retirement system. The benefits of the government-run fire departments are also taking qualified firefighters from the area.

The study will take these issues and others into account as they concluded how much it will cost every year for Jefferson Parish to run a west bank consolidated district. They will look at every issue as a big picture.

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