In Dyersburg, Tennessee, the fire chief is pushing to eliminate battalion chiefs.

Battalion chiefs are critical for effectively responding to and fighting fires. Members of Dyersburg Fire Fighters Association Local 2269 are concerned that eliminating battalion chiefs will jeopardize public safety. The community needs to know how this plan puts their lives at risk. Having enough fire fighters and battalion chiefs to respond in an emergency can be the difference between lives saved and lives lost, and the public deserves to know that their safety is the fire fighters’ number-one priority.

On Sunday, October 6, Dyersburg Local 2269 published a full page advertisement in the Dyersburg Gazette urging the city’s mayor and City Council to put public safety first. Earlier this week, more than 50 Dyersburg fire fighters and family members attended the city’s bi-monthly meeting in order to get their message heard. But they were not put on the public agenda to speak, although the fire fighters were recognized by the Council, and encouraged to attend a future public safety committee meeting to have their concerns addressed. The city’s fire chief just announced his retirement.

Dyersburg has a population of less than 20,000 residents and has three fire stations located across the city.

Over the past year, two battalion chiefs retired and both positions have been left unfilled. Dyersburg Local 2269 fire fighters want their input considered in filling these positions. In addition, a plan that would put a “Captain of Administration” on duty for field work from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 p.m. raises additional concerns for public safety. About 57 percent of emergency calls in the city over the past 15 years have occurred after 4:00 p.m., leaving the fire department inadequately staffed.

Fire fighters have an important message to share with their community. Already, fire fighters have reached thousands of citizens and generated positive feedback on Facebook.

Local 2269 President Jay Cryer says, “It’s clear people are concerned about public safety.”

Dyersburg Local 2269 re-affiliated with the IAFF one year ago in hopes of boosting the fire department’s morale. It is the only union operating in any Dyersburg city department. Morale could suffer even more if public safety isn’t considered a priority in the community.  Local 2269 members are asking city leaders and citizens to come together to discuss how public safety can work best for Dyersburg.