Relatives of fallen Hobart firefighter plead with city officials not to reduce force

2013-01-16T21:30:00Z 2013-02-08T13:05:05Z Relatives of fallen Hobart firefighter plead with city officials not to reduce forceDeborah Laverty, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223

HOBART | Relatives of Hobart's only firefighter to lose his life in the line of duty pleaded with city officials Wednesday not to consider cutting any firefighters' jobs.

Marge Hansen, the mother of Herlof "Ted" Hansen III, told the City Council on Wednesday she doesn't want any more families to undergo what hers did.

"I don't want this to happen again," Marge Hansen said.

Ted Hansen was killed while fighting a Hobart house fire April 13, 1995.

Theresa Sielski, Ted Hansen's sister, said the manpower the day her brother died nearly 18 years ago was at 14 per shift and is only 12 now.

"I'm hoping and praying that there will never be another Hobart family walking in our shoes," Sielski said.

Hansen, Sielski and Hobart resident William Krebes were among those asking city officials to not consider cutting firefighters due to the privatization of the emergency medical services.

City officials met last week to explore that possibility, Mayor Brian Snedecor said.

"The matter of exploring this issue is what every community has to do," Snedecor said.

Snedecor called the meeting a fact-finding measure.

"We have an outstanding EMS," Snedecor said.

City Councilman David Vinzant, D-5th, who was at the fact-finding meeting Jan. 9, confirmed city officials met with Superior Ambulance representatives to hear a proposal.

City officials also had a previous meeting with Prompt Ambulance representatives, Vinzant said.

Privatization of the city's ambulance services is something Hobart Professional Firefighters Local 1641 strongly opposes because it could potentially mean the loss of 12 to 14 firefighters, said Tom Castle, the union's president.

The Hobart Fire Department currently has on its roster 50 firefighters who are cross-trained as either paramedics or emergency medical technicians.

City officials have indicated they want to reduce that number to about 36, Castle said.

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