Glendale FD trying to solve $1.3 million shortfall

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A fire-fight in Glendale might be resolved after a meeting between the fire chief and other city officials.

Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick said the department has a projected budget shortfall of $1.3 million. On Tuesday, the mayor, city manager and council members promised to bridge the gap and find a way to fully fund the department.

“We would have been forced to begin to reduce service and typically that means, you hear browning out stations, shutting down stations, that's where we were teetering, on that edge,” said Chief Burdick.

Budgetary constraints have kept GFD from replacing aging gear. The department is in a constant battle to keep gear up to date and up to code.

“There are certain things we can repair in house that we're trying to save money on, repair them ourselves,” said Louis Barbone, engineer with the Glendale Fire Department.

In some cases, Barbone said GFD doesn't have enough gear to around, forcing crews to move equipment from truck to truck rather than have each one fully stocked and ready to roll at all times.

“It slows down our response time just because that amount of time it takes [to say], ‘okay, what are we taking? Are we taking the big truck, taking the small one?’” said Barbone.

But Chief Burdick said a meeting with city leaders went well. “Our city manager mentioned we will... take the steps to appropriately fund the fire department so this doesn't happen again,” said Chief Burdick.

Now, the chief hopes he can stop putting out budget fires and get back to fighting the real ones. “Seconds count, they really do. And so we worry about if we would have to reduce service because that means delayed response times. So what they did today ensures adequate response times for our citizens,” said Burdick.

According to Burdick, some of the budget issues will be solved by accounting adjustments and others will have to be addressed when it comes time for the mayor and city council to draft the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.