Shreveport, LA Local 514 has long strived to convince citizens and elected city leaders that public safety is in need of investment.
This December, voters in Shreveport approved a bond proposal to invest $70 million in public safety over the next decade, including nearly $29 million for new fire apparatus, fire station renovations and relocations. The public safety bond proposal was the only proposal of five on the ballot approved by Shreveport voters.
In a separate action, the City of Shreveport agreed to add an 11th medic unit to the fire department fleet to help improve response to a growing number of emergency medical calls.
The increased attention and investment in public safety in Shreveport signals a significant improvement in the public perception of local government following a long period of malaise and mistrust, according to Local 514 President Barbara Sellers.
“We could not have won this ballot proposal without the impressive grassroots efforts made by our membership, as well as support from the International,” she says.
In November, President Sellers formally requested assistance from the International to help marshal public support for apparatus and facilities improvements. Local 514 leaders also urged members to mobilize and begin discussing the urgent needs of the Shreveport Fire Department.
“We conducted more than 18 planning meetings with our members and urged each of them to make contact with at least 10 Shreveport voters,” says Sellers. “We’d hoped to get just enough support for approval of the proposal. That we ended up with 59% in favor of public safety when four other proposals on the ballot failed shows we are succeeding in gaining the public’s trust.”
This list of needs, long after years of neglect, includes new fire apparatus after two engines caught fire within a fire station, relocation of several stations, as well as renovations and maintenance improvements.
IAFF 14th District Vice President Danny Todd praised the group effort. “This is what success looks like. You take Local 514’s excellent work on the ground and add in the assistance provided by the International and the result is stronger public safety in Shreveport for the next decade,” says Todd.