Hafa Adai all,
Fire Chief Joey San Nicolas talks about the impact Substitute Bill 22-34 has on the Guam Fire Department.
You can watch the video on the Governor’s YouTube Channel.
NEWS: Legislature’s budget could close fire stations
The Legislature’s decision to underfund the Guam Fire Department by more than $1M could lead to one or two fire stations being shut down.
This Administration prioritized public safety, ensuring our Fire Department has the resources they need. GFD has an unmatched stock of fire trucks and ambulances in its fleets, restored six fire stations to full service, and reopened critical services like the Hågatña Marina Rescue Base. Still, 12 senators found this wasn’t reason enough to fully fund the fire department.
“The question is, what fire stations do we shut down? What services do we stop or temporarily discontinue?” Acting GFD Chief Joey San Nicolas said.
The Legislature has continuously criticized GFD on its overtime costs. When we tried to address this by bringing on 45 fire recruits, they decided to cut the department’s operational budget. This means GFD will have to pay the same amount of overtime, with no possibility of additional firefighters until late next year. The cut in the operational budget also means the fire department won’t be able to hire five critical civilian positions. This means those positions could continually be filled by firefighters, making them unavailable to respond to emergencies.
Speaker BJ Cruz’s budget forces the fire department to rely on funding from the Tourist Attraction Fund. That reduces marketing dollars for the Guam Visitors Bureau during a drop in tourism for our island and GFD may not see the money they need for the department to survive.
Instead of supporting the hard work and progress of the fire department, the Legislature has decided that investing in GFD isn’t worth it.
“Speaker B.J. Cruz led his colleagues down a road that hurts our working families. He led the charge against tax refunds by providing false numbers to his colleagues in the TRAN hearings; he continues to try to push cheap health insurance on thousands of government employees, retirees, and their families; and now he’s compromising the public safety of our community,” Acting Governor Ray Tenorio said. “I’m asking Speaker Cruz to calm down, ratchet down the politics, and provide the leadership required to pass a budget; one that does not compromise public safety while also helping—not hurting—our tourism industry. If the senators override the Governor’s veto, they will own any shortcomings in public safety next year.”