Merrill Fire Department shuts down fire station for a day - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill Fire Department shuts down fire station for a day


Authorities from the Merrill Fire Department and city officials say the fire station on the west side of town had to temporarily close because of issues with paying firefighters overtime.

They say the city simply can no longer afford it.

For a 24-hour period, Merrill Fire Station 2 sat empty.

The fire chief said it happened from Sunday at 7 a.m. until Monday at 7 a.m.

One firefighter was out sick, and another was on vacation. That left just five fire fighters on duty for both stations.

"At those times, I'm compelled to close Station 2, because with five personnel, we just can't staff two stations," said Bob Odegard, Merrill Fire Chief.

City leaders said no one was in danger, but the mayor is upset the station closed. 

"People have to realize they should have had seven people on yesterday. First and foremost, they shouldn't have just closed the station," said William Bialecki, mayor of Merrill.

But, he said the department was still covered in case of a fire. 

"They have very competent fire departments, the Town of Pine River, and the Town of Corning, and anytime we have a big blaze in town, even minor ones they're in here on a mutual aid assistance," said William Bialecki.

No fires were reported. But authorities acknowledge fewer firefighters could have delayed their response time.

"We're covering the same area we always did, it will delay the response certainly, hopefully not by enough to make a big difference," said Odegard.

It's a move authorities said they hope they won't have to repeat again. 

"We will continue to give the best service we possibly can and we're hoping to minimize the amount of times they have to shut that station down," said Odegard.

Authorities from the Merrill Fire Department said during the time the station was shut down, they didn't face any threats from fire. They say they only did ambulance runs.



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