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Controversial video released relating to public safety debate

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – The Cedar Falls Public Safety Department released a video regarding a house fire in February.

The video has caused controversy in the debate to cross train Cedar Falls police officers as firefighters, calling them public safety officers.

In the video the incident commander former Fire Captain Josh Lux asks several times where the public safety officers are, saying they need more people to attack the fire from within the home.

“They did a call back, its not just where are the PSOs, its where are the part timers, where are the full timers, and where are the PSOs,” said Public Safety Director Jeff Olson. Olson said there had been several calls for off duty assistance, whether that be a full-time firefighter or a PSO.

According to city documents, 6 full-time firefighters and 2 PSOs initially responded.

Olson says the issue in this fire wasn’t staffing, but water. At one point in the video you can see the water pressure drop because of a lack of supply in the rural neighborhood.

“Fire science tells us we have a very short window on scene, to save a house,” said the local firefighter’s union president Scott Dix.

Dix says the crews were delayed from attacking the fire were delayed fighting the fire from the inside becuae they didn’t have enough people to safely enter the house.

When asked about the callback, Dix said the city needs to raise the minimum number of firefighters per shift.

“You’re going to be guaranteed those people are going to be there. It’s not that if they’re available, maybe they’ll come from home, they’re at the station that’s why you’re paying them to be there. You know you’re going to have a response,” said Dix.

Director Olson said more off duty PSOs responded after that call for help compared to full time firefighters. He also said response time was delayed due to the icy road conditions. The union feels more could have been done if more personnel had been at the station.

The city says they’ve discontinued use of those cameras because they have no policy in place on how the video is archived, or rules over how it’s handed out.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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