Dear Editor:

I have owned and operated a business in Charleston for several years. I am very pleased with the service and protection provided to my business and my family by Charleston's fire department.

That is why I am so concerned about recent discussions between Mayor Danny Jones and Charleston City Council. It seems they are in the process of reducing the number of firefighters in the city through deep budget cuts. Other proposals actually suggest police officers be used to fight fires and firefighters be used to fight crime. I hope my fellow business owners and Charleston residents find these discussions as alarming as I do.

Charleston's fire department is already operating with far fewer fire fighters than it did 15 years ago. Several pieces of critical equipment, such as a vital rescue truck and an expensive ladder truck are not in operation because the fire department can't provide the manpower to operate them as required by federal standards. The mayor and city council say this is all to save money and cut costs. The real result is less fire and emergency service protection for the schools, hospitals, homes and businesses in the city.

As a business owner, I also have to worry about fire insurance costs. Certainly as the fire department is less able to protect the city from fires and other emergencies, the cost for insurance will increase.

Small businesses like mine can't afford to pay higher costs, especially in today's stagnate economy.

I hope Mayor Jones and city council pay attention to the real effects some of the proposed schemes and deep budget cuts will have on the residents of Charleston. The city of Charleston deserves adequate fire protection.

Sincerely,
Bill Gill
Charleston

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