Excerpts from centralillinoisproud.com:

In a sudden 6-4 vote, the Peoria City Council took a big step toward the restoration of public safety services Tuesday night, voting to restore one of the city’s fire engines, which was cut in 2020. This would go into effect on Nov. 1.

During the council’s discussion of the 2022-2023 biennial budget, a councilman said the city has seen the possibility of civilian casualties due to the reductions in the fire department.

Peoria Fire Chief Jim Bachman talked about how the fire department’s ability to control fires to its room of origin has decreased since 2017.

The motion was brought forth that “the city council direct the city manager to restore an engine cut by Council action in 2020.”

The engine will be staffed by 11 existing firefighters, via overtime, until the city applies and possibly gets a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to cover the continued costs next year.

Although this sudden motion was immediately supported one councilwoman, it received pushback from four others. The unexpected timing of the motion during the budget discussion seemed to be one of the lead causes of the conflict amongst council members.

One member defended the motion saying that it had to do with positions that were cut due to COVID-19 and that the city is on good financial ground to make this decision. Ultimately the mayor and five council members voted to pass the motion.

The motion’s sponsor said that the fire chief will decide where the engine will be placed and that this creates a safer Peoria.

In addition to wanting more information on Bachman’s data regarding containing fires to its room of origin, one council member brought up concerns of how much the overtime would affect the firefighters.