Minneapolis fire chief: ‘We’re undermanned’

[anvplayer video=”5166228″ station=”998122″]

Despite the number of calls increasing by more than a third, the Minneapolis Fire Department’s (MFD) staffing numbers have remained the same over 15 years.

Numbers provided by Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner show the department had about 35,000 calls in 2007 with 434 sworn firefighters. Yet in 2022, when the number of calls had risen to around 55,000, staffing numbers remained the same — 434.

Tyner told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS from year to year, those staffing numbers have even dipped.

“NFPA calls for us to have four firefighters on every rig, and right now, we’re only running three on the engines on most days,” Tyner said.

Standards set by the National Fire Protection Association require departments the size of MFD to respond to calls in five minutes or less 90% of the time. Tyner said MFD is no longer meeting that minimum requirement as often as it would like.

“Right now, we’re probably hitting that number 70% of the time. There’s a lot of different reasons for that, but one of them is that we could use more rigs in service to be able to handle those calls.”

Tyner started budget talks Monday with Commissioner of Community Safety Cedric Alexander. Minneapolis crews are looking to add to daily staffing numbers and possibly add another fire station in the city.

MFD’s budgeted daily staffing limit is 102 firefighters, which Tyner would like to raise to 108 in the 2024 budget. That would allow him to bring two more engines into the rotation every day.

“We’re probably, you know, undermanned right now for the lack of a better term,” he said. “You know, we can’t move fire stations around, so the only thing we can do is add more people to the system.”

Tyner’s hope to add another fire station is supported by Minneapolis Firefighters Union President Mark Lakosky, who told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he would like to see the old Station Number 10 — currently the 1st Precinct for the Minneapolis Police Department — refurbished back into a fire hall.

“And, from what I understand, and what city council members tell me, they are (MPD) vacating that station in the second quarter of 2024,” said Lakosky. “Well, if you want to save 15-20 million dollars on property and new construction of a station, there you go. I have just given you one.”

Tyner said his meeting with Commissioner Alexander was preliminary, and more concrete proposals with dollar amounts will be offered in the coming weeks.