Beaver Dam Fire Chief Calls For Referendum To Fund Increased Staffing

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Fire Chief is asking for increased staffing in his department and is calling on elected officials to put the question to voters in the form of a referendum. The department has had two large-scale incidents this year: a deadly explosion of volatile chemicals resulting in the controlled burn of a 16-unit apartment building followed one month later by a blaze at a 17-unit apartment that left two people dead. Chief Alan Mannel told the city’s Police and Fire Commission earlier this month that the outcome of the most recent fire would have been very different with more personnel early on. He told elected officials a week later at the common council meeting that he would like the voters to decide if additional personnel are needed. Mannel also called for an ad hoc committee to be assembled to determine the number of personnel that need to be hired. He declined to say a specific number himself but last year in a report on overtime he called for a half-dozen, full-time firefighter-paramedics to be hired, two-per shift. That would bring the total to six per shift in a department that is also bolstered by paid-on call staff. Mannel says staffing levels as they stand now are leading to employee burn-out. Mayor Becky Glewen says she has spoken with council leadership and will be putting together a committee to look at the matter.