Excerpts from centralillinoisproud.com:

Peoria fire officials are again, asking for public safety resources to be restored after back-to-back weekend house fires where three firefighters were injured, two of which briefly ended up in the hospital.

“There wasn’t a crew on Saturday night, early Sunday morning that works in the city of Peoria that wasn’t involved in these two fires,” Jim Bachman, Peoria fire chief, said. “We used every resource we had and in fact, we called in five extra people.”

Two of the five extra bodies were to replace captains who were burned while battling the fire and had to be taken to the hospital. All of the injured firefighters are home recovering.

Two homes were deemed a total loss and this brought the number of emergency demolitions due to fires this year to about 14 compared to only 10 from last year. The fires are starting to get ahead of firefighters and the reduced staffing makes it harder to get to them in a timely manner.

He recognizes the city’s financial issues, but said having more manpower would help.

“We understand that that’s really difficult this time the way the city’s finances are, but certainly another fire machine could’ve made a difference in putting a quicker stop on this fire,” Bachman said. “We wouldn’t be saying we’d like to see Engine 2 come back just for the sake of saying we’d like to see engine 2 come back.”

Thirty three fire suppression positions have been lost since 2019.

The firefighter’s union wants city leaders to consider allocating some of its Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, from the American Rescue Plan, to the fire department.

CA councilman is advocating for this but said the decision on how to spend the remaining $36.7 million from the fund comes down to the council as a whole.

Back in June, the city manager said the funds can be used to support public health response, to address negative economic impacts, to replace public sector revenue loss, for premium pay for essential workers, for water and sewer infrastructure, and broadband infrastructure.

However, he mentioned it’s not an ongoing stream of revenue and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Council members discussed taking time to figure out the most efficient ways to use the money.

All the funds have to be obligated by until Dec. 31, 2024 and spent by Dec. 31 2026.