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Fire House's Periodic Closing Concerns Residents, Leaders

For Cleveland Fire Chief Paul Stubbs, the periodic closing of Fire Station 21 in the Flats is the least bad option as he tries to keep the department within its budget. Number 21 will be idled on days when fewer than 187 firefighters are working in the city. He says surrounding fire houses can adequately cover the area.

But residents served by the fire house-and the councilmen who represent them-worry that the intermittent closings-called brownouts-will mean longer response times, putting them at risk. Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman says recent road and bridge closings-including the onramp from Tremont and problems on the innerbelt, makes it even more imperative that the firehouse stay open. Here he is questioning Chief Stubbs's estimate from a few months ago that the brownouts lead to response times 40 seconds longer.

CIMPERMAN: That was when we were in a better case scenario than we are here. And we have an innerbelt that may close completely. But you think that the risk is still warranted, and that's the point of this committee meeting-
STUBBS: I don't think the risk is warranted, sir. I think the risk is necessary, based on the dollars that I have to operate. It's a risk I can manage. I did not choose it.

Some residents and business-owners also fear the closing could affect their insurance premiums.

The city council is exploring ways it could find funds to keep the fire station open more days.