‘We narrowly averted tragedy’: Middletown fire official blames layoffs for slow response

Video by WCPO

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – “A district fire chief said recent layoffs nearly led to tragedy and got a stern rebuke from the city manager in internal emails reviewed by WCPO Tuesday.

“We narrowly averted tragedy,” District Fire Chief Pau Lolli said after it took more than 25 minutes for all of the necessary crews to reach a fire at the Super 8 motel Sunday night.

Lolli raised questions about public safety in an email to the fire chief and said the delay was a direct result of the city laying off 11 firefighters on Saturday.

“I can say without a doubt that if this isn’t a failure of reduced staffing, then I don’t know what is,” Lolli said.

“Reduced manpower makes it very difficult to operate effectively and efficiently.”

Lolli’s email got a courteous response from Fire Chief Steven Botts, who said an investigation is underway.

“That process has already begun and will continue tomorrow morning. For now thank you to you and all who courageously and expertly dealt with this difficult situation,” Botts wrote.

City Manager Doug Adkins

City Manager Doug Adkins

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