Firefighters close station after tax increase fails - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters close station after tax increase fails

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Bayou Cane, La. - The blinds are closed and firefighters on Tuesday packed up their remaining equipment at Fire Station 3 in Terrebonne Parish.

The Bayou Cane Fire Protection District shut down the station on Savanne Road, the first of what the chief says will be many changes to the department after voters rejected a tax increase.

"We've cut as deep as we can possibly go," says Chief Ken Himel. "There's no fluff in the budget. There's not a line item where we're spending a hundred thousand dollars on traveling to conferences all over the country. I almost wish there was, because that would be the first thing to go."

Voters in the Bayou Cane area approved a measure that keep the fire department at its current budget. But they said no to an additional 10 mills that the district said it needed to maintain its operational level.

Along with closing Station 3, Himel says the department will also make changes to the amount of calls to which it responds.

In the past, fire trucks would roll alongside Acadian Ambulance on all calls.

"Basically one of the things we heard during the election was that some people didn't really care for the numbers of calls we ran," says Himel. "We basically were, if you requested an ambulance, we responded, so we've cut that back to basically life-threatening situations."

The chief says the worst cuts are still to come. A grant that pays for more than a dozen positions runs out at the end of this year.  Himel says the department will likely layoff seven firefighters in the beginning of January.

Bob Dungan owns the Lunch Basket in Bayou Cane.  He voted for the tax increase because he knows how important fire protection is. His old location in Houma burned down a few years ago.

"But things are tight right now for everybody," he says. "The cost of my products are going up constantly so I've got to cut somewhere. I guess they do too."

Dungan thinks the remaining three stations will be able to cover all of Bayou Cane's district.

Chief Himel says all areas will still have protection. The firehouses on Main Street and St. Charles will cover the area served by the shuttered station.

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