Jan 4, 2011 7:32 PM by Shawn Kline
St. Martin Parish officials say they will start paying firefighters for the first time ever but these paid firefighters could be coming from other departments... in other parishes.
So, what started it?
It was a busy year for St. Martin Parish firefighters.
"Our call load has doubled," Fire District Coordinator Brain Castille said.
In just the last year, fire calls have increased by nearly 73%. Couple that with a loss in volunteer firefighters, Castille says it can leave the parish unprotected.
"They're just not working in our parish anymore," Castille said. "They're working in Lafayette, Broussard and they can't just leave anymore."
Castille says most volunteer firefighters are at work during the day so parish officials wanted to pay some firefighters to keep the parish covered.
"It's just getting tougher and tougher to get firemen to respond between the hours of eight to five," Parish President Guy Cormier said.
Cormier and Parish Council are adding part-time firefighters which will cost tax payers around $125-thousand/year.
A cost Cormier says has become necessary.
"We're proud of our Volunteer Fire Departments." Cormier says, "but it's come to a point where we have to make a decision about public safety."
"We're just trying to help our guys out." Castille says, "supplement them with some paid guys during the day."
Paid guys who Castille and Cormier say are certified firefighters, most of whom are already employed full-time by fire departments will come from fire departments outside St. Martin Parish.