Proposal to fund Harahan Fire Department killed by city council

Harahan firefighters fight for more funding

HARAHAN, La. (WVUE) - A proposal to triple the budget of a local fire station died in the Harahan City Council.

The Harahan Fire Department says they’ve been operating on a shoe string budget and that if something isn’t done, it will impact service calls.

The council voted down the proposed $40 fee on residents’ water bills Thursday.

Several people at the meeting were pleased with the outcome.

Despite the vote, fire leaders are imploring neighbors to see why the department is in such a dire position financially.

Mold, leaking ceilings, peeling paint and outdated equipment. These are some of the issues Harahan firefighters have to live with and fight fires with.

“I mean, it is water falling everywhere and you can see the water stains and sometimes we actually have toilet paper stuff here because water pours over the door,” says Gary Hopkins, Presidents of the Harahan Firefighters Association.

He says most firefighters don’t even use their living quarters because of concern for mold.

“You can smell it. You can smell it yeah.”

He says since the backlash against the proposed $40 service fee on residents’ water bills, morale has taken a dip. That’s because firefighters at the station know there’s not much time left until much of their equipment is rendered out of date or needing repair.

“Those are air packs that are out of date, out of service, not repaired.”

Not only that, but the 14 firefighters employed by the city have gone without raises for more than a decade.

That’s why Hopkins has penned this letter with signed support from others in the field. In it, he invites neighbors to see exactly what their money would go towards.

“When I said this place was about to be a museum that’s part of how old our stuff is.”

Even among neighbors, it’s a point Jason Chatelain and Tony Bustillo are split on.

“Most people ain’t going to be for it. They want a better fire department. They don’t want to pay more money. I’m not willing to pay $40 a month. I don’t want my house to burn down.”

“I think the fire department needs help just where they going to find the money to do it.”

Hopkins says in the meantime, they’ll continue to do their best with equipment that is less than.

“Do they work?” says Hopkins. “Sometimes.”

The city council approved a resolution that would match a Jefferson Parish $300,000 grant to be used for a new fire truck.

The Harahan Fire Chief who says now there’s going to be discussion on putting together a resolution for a millage that would benefit the fire station. But if passed, that money wouldn’t be collected until year 2021.

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