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Arizona firefighters resign en masse over city’s new staffing policy

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LISTEN: South Tucson firefighter loss

PHOENIX — The city of South Tucson is looking at a serious problem. In two weeks, most of its firefighters will be gone, having resigned over safety worries.

At issue is the number of firefighters on engine teams.

The city said three-person teams will begin operating March 1. The day before that, 22 of its 33 firefighters will have quit because officials said the city cannot afford four-person teams anymore.

That’s not a good idea, according to South Tucson Fire Capt. Ray Raimondi.

“You’re either going to put yourself in a grave danger by performing a rescue, or you’re going to lose lives – citizens’ lives,” he told Tucson TV station KVOA.

“You’re not going to enter a burning building until you have backup.”

Raimondi is among those quitting.

“We don’t feel supported here,” Raimondi told Tucson TV station KOLD.

“It’s just flat dangerous to run three-person engine crews.”

South Tucson is currently recruiting firefighters.

The department was formed in 1941. As of 2016, it served 5,645 residents.

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