Nashville is starting another year in the spotlight. Forbes says the city is the seventh fastest growing city in the U.S. However, our FOX 17 News investigation uncovers a disconnect between all that growth and how Nashville funds our public safety. Some say our priorities are simply out of whack.
You see the people coming and coming and coming. Buck Dozier runs Box 55 supporting firefighters and other first responders who are trying to take care of all these people.
Dozier says seven years of meteoric growth with no additional firefighters will do that to you. The reason Dozier volunteers is because he was our city’s fire chief from 1993 to 2000. He brings an experienced perspective adding, “As an ex-chief, I think we've always had this problem. It's always money.”
Project Nashville has previously exposed how our city could be 20 fire stations short.
“With the growth, it's just unbelievable how many more stations we need," Dozier said.
FOX 17 News documented the Nashville Fire Department's consecutive budget requests during our growth. We pulled video after video from Metro’s YouTube Channel of the fire department asking for more manpower.
“We were looking at additional 35 firefighters.”
“Another year in record breaking in calls.”
“We're asking for 67 more firefighters.”
“We need 19 more firefighters.”
“I've requested 10 additional.”
Councilman Steve Glover didn’t mince words during some of these budget hearings saying, “The growth of houses and amount of buildings and are we able to keep up with that? And the answer would simply be. ‘NO.’ ”
Councilman Doug Pardue echoes that same sentiment in this 2017 budget hearing, “It's time to do something for the fire department.”
Project Nashville has also shown how we're breaking OSHA's staffing regulation of 2 in 2 out or 4 total on each truck so firefighters have a buddy. Former chiefs have sounded the alarm during budget hearings pointing out these are federal regulations we don’t have the option of ignoring.
Firefighter David Powell says disregarding it cost him his health and career.
He’s brain damaged from fighting a fire without a buddy. He tells FOX 17 News staffing was always short.
Consecutive growth and consecutive requests. Former chief Dozier chimes in, “I think it's a lack of political will.”
Who knows, Dozier says maybe just maybe 2019 will be the year we finally fully fund our firefighters.
While Metro government has denied requests for more firefighters in recent years, it has added 38 more EMT’s and paramedics. Metro budget hearings begin soon and FOX 17 News will follow the fire department's funding requests. February 27 in Project Nashville at 9, if the fire department isn’t getting the money from all our growth, who is? A deeper look at the companies getting so-called 'corporate welfare.'