Gulfport fire chief speaks about recommendations to save money

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Fire Department could see big changes if city leaders decide to follow a consultant's recommendations to save money. The report recommended closing fire station four and said to consider combining fire stations three and 12 into a new building.

"I think there are a lot of good ideas in that study they had," Fire Chief Michael Beyerstedt said. "Out of the 20, we were in the process of working on a dozen or so of those. There were a couple we didn't have in the process going right now. Then there are a few I didn't agree with."

Beyerstedt said since a decision has not been made yet he does not want to discuss any specifics, but he said he is confident whatever leaders decide will not impact the quality of fire protection.

"Anything that we would do would not decrease the fire rating of the city of Gulfport. The mayor and city council have been very clear with me that they intend to maintain the rating of four that we currently enjoy, so anything we do will not be jeopardizing that," Beyerstedt said.

Over the past 18 months, the fire chief said the department has not filled any vacancies, eliminating eight positions.

"It's a challenging thing anytime you reduce. I have a great staff here and they are working hard to make sure we keep providing that service to the citizens," Beyerstedt said.

Currently there are 160 employees with the fire department and Beyerstedt believes that number will remain constant throughout any changes.

"No matter what aspects of the plan or study that is implemented, we are not going backwards. We are moving forward," Beyerstedt said.

The mayor said he is not sure when the suggestions will be brought back up to the city council for a final decision to be made.

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