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TC Commissioners Approve Three New Fire, EMS Positions


The Traverse City Fire Department is getting extra help.

The City Commission approved three more firefighter and paramedic positions to next year’s budget in a meeting held Monday. Traverse City Fire Chief Jim Tuller says the extra positions are, “badly needed.”

“It basically comes down to safety. When Rescue 1 goes out with two [responders] and engine 2 on the other side of town goes out with two [responders], that leaves this engine with one person, our captain. And it’s not safe for him to drive lights and sirens by himself in the city,” Chief Tuller explains.

The decision comes local firefighters and paramedics spent more than a month advocating for the new additions. Mayor Richard Lewis noticed their protests and praises their patience.

“This was a little bit more personal for the members of the fire department and we appreciate them. And I personally appreciate their patience as we work through it,” Mayor Lewis states.

Over a month ago, on May 16, an early draft of the cities budget showed the fire department wouldn’t be getting the extra help. Local firefighters, paramedics and supporters protested, showing up to every city council meeting since. Chief Tuller says the firefighters are a big reason they were able to get the added positions.

“There was a lot of legwork done by the firefighters themselves. Showing up there at the public comment off duty. Having the public up there too saying this really warrants a serious look. I mean that was really helpful,” Chief Tuller admits. “To see that and hear a lot of people not from the fire service, but from other emergency services and other people that just live here say that. I though it was very satisfying on one level, but also very humbling.”

The fire department is still short five firefighters, which leads them to their next challenge: Filling those positions. Chief Tuller says every fire department in the nation is short staffed and having a tough time recruiting. However, Chief Tuller says he’s just glad to be moving in the right direction.

“We’ll hire some folks and it will take six to eight months in order to get them where they need to be in order to operate this vehicle. And yeah we’re very, very happy,” Chief Tuller states.