The choice was clear for Idaho Falls Fire Chief Dean Ellis: pay up or occasionally close one of his city's fire stations.
The Post Register reports that Ellis gave the ultimatum to the Idaho Falls City Council July 11. Ellis told lawmakers that his department would exceed its overtime budget by $160,000, but when council members didn't approve extra funding, Ellis opted to shut down Station No. 5 "periodically" until the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Monday, Sept. 30.
Ellis pointed to long-term absences, due to injury, as a manpower problem, thus forcing extra overtime.
But Ellis had another warning: By closing one of the city's five fire stations, Idaho Falls risks higher fire insurance rates.
"Every minute lost is a greater fire in that building," Firefighters Local 1565 President Duane Nelson told the Post Register. "Service has been decreased and response times will increase, leading to potentially higher life safety risk and higher risks of property loss."