Tensions Rise Between Firefighters Union And Escambia County After 3 Deaths In One Week

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) — Three fire deaths in one week in Escambia County are leading to high emotions between the firefighters union and commissioners over how services are funded.

The union, known as The Escambia County Professional Firefighters is calling for change.

“Our message for the past year has been we need to increase staffing and increase funding to address a number of issues within the fire department,” said Union President Nick Gradia.

Gradia admits more manpower would likely not have been able to prevent the deaths in last week’s fires.

While these fires are still under investigation by the State Fire Marshal, Gradia says the nature of the fires made saving those lives nearly impossible.

Gradia says more steps need to be taken to prevent future tragedies like this.

“Our job is to give the citizens their best chance at survival, so we’re going to fight for that best chance,” Gradia said. “We need the increase in staffing. We need increased funding. We need the commissioners to sit down and spend time with administration and develop a holistic plan for public safety and the fire department.”

A social media post from the Escambia County Professional Firefighters called out Escambia County for its lack of resources impacting the response to the fatal fire at Med Pro Solutions.

This led Commissioner Jeff Bergosh to request the fire and dispatch reports.

“I think it’s premature for anyone to hurl blame at anyone else, particularly the county for a lack of resources when the fire report clearly illustrates there were a lot of equipment at the scene, plenty of firefighters – as many as 60 firefighters and 9 officers, so I don’t believe it’s a lack of resources,” Bergosh told Channel 3 News.

Bergosh believes this tragedy should not be used to further labor negotiations.

We asked Gradia about this and he says that it not their intention and their message is being misconstrued.

“Again, our job is to do everything we can to give you your best chance at survival and we’ll always do that regardless if we’re limited by a budget or political views,” Gradia said. “We’re always here and always will be.”

From www.weartv.com