Budget cuts may hinder fire investigations in Mesa

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MESA, Ariz. - Last month when the Mesa Fire Department was dealing with the possibility of an arsonist, they had three fire investigators to investigate the causes of the blazes.

Now Mesa only has one investigator and the fire department says if a home caught fire today, there's a good chance the owner would never find out how it started.

When you ask someone with the fire department they will tell you it is frustrating that the Mesa Fire Department had to cut two of its three fire investigators.

“We have a string of suspected arsons and we have one individual, we're going to really wear that person out,” said Mesa Fire Marshal Rich Kochanski.

The fire investigator determines where a fire started, how it started and if it was arson.

The reality now is with only one man covering the entire city not every fire will be investigated.

“There maybe arsonists that actually are able to get away with arson right now, there will be no follow up and that's an unfortunate situation for us,” Kochanski said.

Budget cuts forced the fire department to make this tough decision. It was either get rid of two fire investigator positions or get rid of two firefighters.

They chose to keep the firefighters, but the Mesa city council could've saved these two investigator positions by giving the department more money. For that to happen other city programs would've take an even bigger financial hit.

Mesa resident Shirlene Turley doesn't like to hear public safety is under the ax, but she understands why.

“I think it's tough, because everybody is cutting back on budgets, that's the hard part, everybody has to cut back, it's just the way it is now,” Turley said.
While the two fire investigators have lost their job title they're not losing their jobs.

Both guys are actually at the fire academy right now getting a refresher course in firefighting.