As the outlook for Gulfport's budget darkens, some city workers are putting it on their shoulders to do more to save taxpayer dollars. On top of saving lives firefighters are repairing buildings, doing automotive work, and other projects. They're saving the city thousands of dollars, but not taking a dime for the extra work.
Stanley Butler is a carpenter. He's also a Gulfport Firefighter. He didn't expect to operate a hammer and a hose in the same day, but then he saw the price tag for fixing just one of the three damaged sections of roof at Station Six.
"It was gonna cost us out of pocket $20,800 to have an outside company come in and do it," said Butler. "We're gonna do all three for less than that one roof alone."
Tired of setting out rain buckets, the firefighters made a proposal. If the city would pay for the materials, they'd provide volunteer labor and the tools.
Butler said " We're not very fast because we're only here every third day. It does get done."
To get the work done, firefighters from Station Five came to help with a repayment of sorts. The station six guys helped repaint station five.
"Just for my fellow firefighters," said Tom Regan. "We're all brothers. Looking out for each other. Their roof is leaking. We'll put a new roof on."
Firefighters throughout Gulfport are using their skills as welders, mechanics, and bricklayers to make all kinds of repairs. They say they're saving the city of more than $100,000 a year.
Deputy Chief Daryl Necaise said "[I] really admire these guys for stepping up to the plate and doing all this extra work. It's really an asset not only to the fire department but to the citizens of Gulfport."
"We're here. We have to live in it so we know we're gonna do the best job possible and end up with a good finished product," said Regan.
The repair crews are all volunteer which means they're doing double duty by saving money and lives.
Necaise says projects are underway at many Gulfport fire stations. Firefighters are volunteering to renovate rooms, install windows, and paint the outside of fire stations.