Knightdale Police Now Doing Double Duty As Firefighters
Posted July 8, 2002 9:31 a.m. EDT
KNIGHTDALE, N.C. — More and more places are doing more with less these days. In Knightdale, many police officers have been cross-trained as firefighters.
Keeping the people of Knightdale safe from crime is hard enough for Senior Officer Tracy Solomon. Now, he has agreed to protect residents from fire.
"So far I think I've answered one call that I've actually been on duty for. I was a first responding officer to that call. It probably won't be too much added to our daily routine that we weren't already doing," Solomon said.
About 80 percent of Knightdale's police force has signed up to fight fires and a 10 percent pay increase.
The officers take basic fire training and keep their gear in their patrol cars.
"Our officers are mostly around anyway. So what we're doing is we're taking them and training them. We're giving them the equipment they need to do the job," said Chief Skip Blaylock, Knightdale Public Safety director.
For the town, the goal is to have more paid workers responding to calls. This move roughly doubles its paid manpower.
"Most of them like it. They see it as a challenge and some of them feel it's an extension of the police job," Blaylock said.
The town is only a week into this new system and so far, officials said response times are improving.
"Right now, the department, as a whole, is concentrating a lot on the fire side of it. I think that's going to balance out again. I don't think our law enforcement side has slacked up one bit."
Current police officers had the option to sign up for the extra duty or opt out. All new hires will be public safety officers, trained to fight fires.
In April, the Town Council voted to discontinue using the volunteer fire department, which has served the town for 31 years.
Butner and Holly Springs also require double duty from its police force.