Tacoma shuffles its firefighting resources under tight budget

TACOMA, Wash. - Some families will have emergency crews a little closer - and others a little farther - come next week in Tacoma.

It's all part of the fire department's creative way to shuffle service under a tight budget.

For the first time since 2007, cars are crossing Tacoma's Murray Morgan Bridge. And starting next week - so will fire trucks.

Now that the bridge is open, the Tacoma Fire Department says it needs to shuffle service to save on cash.

"Because of the budget, Station 6 will close. That's the one on the other side of the bridge," says Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan.

When Station 6 closes, Duggan says there will be more city to cover by fewer stations.

So the department created a diagram showing how many vehicles can arrive within a four minutes of a 911 call - the darker the color, the shorter the wait.

Duggan says getting service to the lighter areas starts with revamping Station 13 in the Proctor District. As of Friday it will return to 24-hour staffing - back up from just 12 hours a day. But it still won't be fully equipped.

"I want to be clear - we're not returning the fire engine," says Duggan.

Still, Duggan says a fully staffed Station 13 improves emergency medical service coverage and allows other nearby engines - like Engine 9 - to pick up calls from places that Station 6 used to cover.

Chief Duggan admits it's not ideal - but says it will have to do.