Mobile Firefighters dealing with ‘brown outs’ and ‘riding short’


Vice President of Mobile Firefighters Association Matt Waltman posted a Facebook status, detailing which units were suddenly out of service, which stations suffered brown outs. It got about 300 shares, and even more raised eyebrows.

“Within the past month, we’ve had a more drastic amount of ladder trucks and engines riding short,” said Waltman, a firefighting veteran.

Riding short means they aren’t working with a full crew, or even full equipment.

“Now, we’ve had to shut trucks down when we reach a critical staffing level where we can’t staff,” said Waltman.

Mobile Public safety director Rich Landolt says budget challenges mandate the cuts.

“We are going to shut down, brown out rRed fire station, we are going to review this on a daily basis, we’re also taking down rescue 1 truck at Lloyd Freeman, and at public safety complex, we are taking a fire truck and staff that we don’t need” said Landolt.

But Waltman says changes like those, create consequences

“Here’s the domino effect, that truck is covering this truck’s run area, now this truck that’s designated for this area, and it has its own call load,” said Waltman.

Landolt blames overtime costs on events like Mardi Gras and the Senior Bowl, and wants outside help

“I want to see what the consultants say about how we are manned, trained, equipped and staffed” said Landolt.

That process could take months, and firefighters want a say.

MFA has sent official correspondence to the public safety office requesting  meeting and asking specific questions.

“There’s an inherent risk to being law enforcement and firefighting and you don’t need to add to it by cutting staff,” said Waltman.

And they want another longstanding issue addressed.

“What this boils down to, and goes all the way back to, is not having a fire chief for 3 years” said Waltman.

The union is concerned that without a leader, the city can do whatever they want with the fire department

Meaning more brownouts, and more riding short.

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