Future of public safety in Bay City still in question

The future of Bay City's public safety is still in question after Monday night's meeting. (Photo credit: Amanda Chodnicki)

It's been about five years now since Bay City's fire and police department merged into a public safety agency.

But at Monday night's meeting, commissioners were supposed to vote on a resolution to increase the number of strictly full-time firefighters.

Instead, commissioners voted to refer the resolution back to staff because they were concerned with how a move like this would impact the city financially.

Right now, officials said there are 20 strictly full-time firefighters in Bay City.

If the resolution were to pass, it would bring that number to 22.

The public safety director said with crime rates on the rise, they need the extra set of hands.

"No, it's a step forward by not passing the resolution because it will give me more law enforcement hands," Bay City Public Safety Director Mike Cecchini said. "One person can do two jobs and let's face it, less than one percent of the time there's firefighters and PSOs fighting fires. The last working fire we had was June 5th, so it's a small amount of time."

Fire officials, on the other hand, said they need more staff devoted solely to fighting fires because doing two jobs is just too much.

"Having dedicated firefighters in the stations provides the best response," Paul MacBride, the president of Bay City Firefighters Local 116 said. "When you have one group of people trying to do two very difficult jobs, something is going to suffer, the service is going to suffer and it's usually on the fire protection side."

Officials weren't the only ones speaking out.

A number of residents shared their opinions on both sides.

Some wanted to see more police on the streets, while others wanted to see more working firefighters, especially after experiencing a house fire of their own.

As for what's next, the city manager said they will take a look at the resolution and it will come back for a vote at their last meeting in September.

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