A Tale of Two Fire Departments

The fire department for the city of Springfield, Ill., is getting federal funding to bring on about 20 new firefighters to compensate for pending retirements. Unfortunately, there is no way for state and local officials to use these same funds to retain the firemen of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter Wing at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, reports Springfield’s State Journal-Register. The unit is scheduled to lose its firefighters at the end of September as a consequence of relinquishing its F-16 flying mission in 2008. In addition to supporting the wing, the unit’s firefighters also have provided crash and rescue support to the airport. Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin told the newspaper that he has investigated whether the federal funds could help save the Air Guard jobs, but this cannot be done, he said, in part because the state employs these airmen. (See also More than Just Airframes.)