TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The recent death of a 52-year-old man in South Tampa has some in the area asking for more resources for a nearby fire station.
Emilio Monte says he heard a commotion next door on the morning of Nov. 21 and came outside to learn a 52-year-old man had just fallen off a two-story roof.
The incident happened just four minutes away from Firehouse 19 in Port Tampa. The morning the man fell off the roof, first responders from Station 19 were busy fighting a two-alarm fire at another home.
However, even if Station 19 wasn’t busy, Monte and others say they don’t have the equipment or staff to help in a situation like the one that happened that day.
Andrew Carter is the President of the Firefighters Union in Tampa and says the victim in the Port Tampa incident had to wait longer than most people for first responders to arrive.
“Seventeen minutes is a very long response time. Seventeen minutes is an extremely long time to wait for 911. We have an average, expected response time much less than that,” Carter said.
He pointed to a study completed in 2020 that shows the need for more firefighters and equipment.
“It showed that the city of Tampa was behind with the number of fire stations, amount of personnel, resources,” said Carter.
He says the staffing at fire stations has not kept up with recent rapid population growth.
“If you are not growing at the same rate as your population, you’re not standing still, you’re falling behind,” said Carter.
Tampa City Councilman Bill Carlson has been speaking with community leaders in South Tampa and the need for more fire department resources.
He says the city administration needs to take a hard look at the budget and come up with more funding to help.
“If we take a pencil to the budget and cut the budget by putting things out for bid and not spending frivolous amounts of money, we can save enough money to buy the fire trucks we need and pay for the police officers that we need,” Carlson said.