One of two University City firehouses temporarily shuts down due -

One of two University City firehouses temporarily shuts down due to staffing issues

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Firefighters respond to an emergency. Firefighters respond to an emergency.
UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. ( - Residents were concerned and the Firefighters' Union said lives were being put at risk after one of University City's two firehouses was temporarily closed on Sunday.

"Minutes and seconds really do matter," said Cindy Thierry, longtime University City resident. "We had a fire seven years ago and the fire department responded in four and a half minutes. So, it really concerns me and scares me that response times are being impacted."

Kurt Becker, who represents the Firefighters' Union said University City Firehouse Number One, which is brand new, was closed for approximately 12 hours.

"Residents of University City should be very upset with this," said Becker. "This is creating a genuine public safety hazard. This isn't the union coming forward crying foul, this isn't a chicken little kind of thing. We had calls yesterday that required inordinately long responses."

Firehouse Two was open, but Becker said response times lagged because some calls were handled as mutual aid, using crews from Clayton, Richmond Heights and Mid-County.

"This doesn't make me feel good, it feels like the city doesn't have our best interest at heart," said Bart Steward, a resident. "Public safety is obviously one of our biggest concerns, you know, making sure families are safe."

Both of University City's fire stations were back up and running on Monday and City Manager Lehman Walker said the firehouse was only closed for a short period of time on Sunday, not for 12 hours as Becker said.

Walker told News 4 that several firefighters were on vacation and some called in sick, leaving the station shorthanded.

The city has already changed its vacation policy to make sure the situation never happens again, said Walker.

The University City currently has 31 firefighters on active duty. According to city policy, the department is supposed to have 45 firefighters.
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