Excerpts from wandtv.com:

Springfield city aldermen are giving high praise to the fire department amid budget discussions. It was a record setting year for the Springfield Fire Department as firefighters responded to more calls than ever before in 2021. The increase was mostly to a rise in hazmat responses, false alarms, and EMS calls. 

“We surpassed 21,000 runs this year- that’s our highest volume ever,” Chief Brandon Blough told the council Monday night.

Firefighters are now being asked to fill the gap while there has been a shortage of paramedics.

“This is something that’s out of our control. These are privatized companies and we can do our best to work with them,” Blough explained.

But aldermen said they want answers as to why firefighters are spending so much of their time and resources on EMS calls as they try to reign in their own overtime costs. The department is also tackling overtime by hiring 18 more firefighters.

Aldermen plan to bring in the three private companies that operate ambulance services for the city to ask for reimbursement, and the mayor said it’s time for more drastic action, including changes to the union contract when it comes to minimum manpower and pension contributions.

But with new firefighters, a new fire station and a new focus on the future, aldermen are confident they’re headed in the right direction.

The department is budgeted to receive one new fire station to be built in the Panther Creek area. Three others will be torn down and rebuilt in new locations. The four new stations are expected to cost $12 million and be partially paid for with federal pandemic dollars.