That decision doesn`t sit well with Dean Marks, president of the firefighters union.
“We would hope it would be going to man stations and protect the residents,” he said.
The city laid off 10 firefighters earlier this year and is down to two fire stations, a move that the firefighters say has left the city in danger.
Fire Chief Rich Benton said he decided to have the new ladder truck – which the city paid about $1 million for – appear in the parade because he wanted to honor area soldiers who have died.
“I`m trying to save every penny possible,” he said. “I just didn`t feel right saying â€˜No, we`re not going to honor our veterans this year.` ”
He said because the city has lost native sons in combat in 2008 he didn`t feel it would be appropriate for the Fire Department to skip the parade.
Army Capt. Michael Medders Jr., the son of Elyria Police Chief Michael Medders, was killed by a suicide bomber in September, and Army Spc. Jason Cox of Elyria was killed by a roadside bomb in June.
Because the truck is new, Benton said there are only a few firefighters who can drive it. He said the two firefighters who were called in Monday manned the station while two firefighters, including Marks, drove the truck in the parade.
Marks said a third firefighter, who dressed as Sparky the fire dog, volunteered his time to ride on the truck. Benton said insurance regulations prohibit him from allowing volunteers to drive the truck.
Elyria Safety-Service Director Chris Eichenlaub said Benton didn`t ask him for permission to have the ladder truck in the parade, but he approves of the decision.
The residents spent a lot of money on the truck, he said, and deserved to see it. Had there been an emergency, he said, the fire truck was the last vehicle in the parade and easily could have left the parade to respond.
“We are cutting back on a lot of things, but that doesn`t mean we`re stopping everything,” Eichenlaub said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.