Emergency situations have been on many Disney Park or Disney World Guests‘ minds after the Cinderella Castle fire in the Magic Kingdom earlier this month (shown above); unfortunately, it seems that emergencies in Disney World are even more dangerous than many people realize. Apparently, the Reedy Creek professional firefighters in charge of responding to Disney World emergencies are expressing concerns about being too understaffed.
The worry about this public safety issue goes back at least as far as May of 2019, when Tim Stromsnes, the then-president of the Reedy Creek Firefighters Association, spoke to the Orlando Sentinel and said the following: “We’re stretched to the max…They’re asking us to do more with less. Why are we doing such a disservice to the visitors, to the tourists who come to Disney, and not giving them an adequate amount of firefighters to do these operations? We don’t have enough firefighters to make them safe.”
NEW: Disney's firefighters have voiced concerns about understaffing at their fire department for years, but now they say it's at a critically low level to where if a major safety incident happened at the resort, they wouldn't be able to handle it. ? 1/https://t.co/oWu6YMgjFZ
— Katie Rice (@katievrice) December 16, 2021
The firefighters’ concern is only exacerbated by the fact that a woman recently passed away who “would have had a better chance of survival” if she’d gotten medical care a bit faster, Jon Shirey (the current president of the Reedy Creek Firefighters Association) told the Orlando Sentinel in an interview.
Apparently “firefighters and paramedics say they are bracing to be stretched further” and “are increasingly relying on outside fire departments to respond to calls and take people to hospitals” now that Disney is in the midst of its busy holiday season.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “the union is in arbitration with the district over the staffing issue, pushing for more first responders”. As Tim Stromsnes (who is now the union’s communications director) said, “we’re putting people who are visiting Disney in danger”. “If there is a big event, we’re not even remotely close to being able to handle it on our own,” Shirey added in the interview. Apparently some of the firefighters actually “refuse to ride” the Disney Skyliner because rescue and evacuation from the Skyliner could take hours (and it already has).
According to the article, Disney’s spokesman Avery Maehrer said that “the safety of everyone who comes to Walt Disney World Resort has always been extremely important to us, and we are grateful to all the first responders who continue to keep our property safe”.
Katie Rice (the author of the most recent Orlando Sentinel article) wrote that “neither Disney nor Reedy Creek would discuss the specific staffing allegations raised by the union”.