Stephenville Fire Chief Jimmy Chew wasn’t shy Tuesday when asked what he needed most and what topped his wish list for his department.

“People,” Chew said after Mayor Pro-Tem Todd McEvoy questioned him about his top need for the upcoming 2007-2008 fiscal year.

“If I can have only one thing, I want people,” he said.

Chew made the comments while addressing Stephenville City Council members during a “work session” late Tuesday.

The Stephenville Fire Department currently has 24 firefighters who work three shifts - 24 hours on, 48 hours off.

Currently, the standard for the department is to never drop below six firefighters per shift, Chew said.

However, under Chew’s proposal floated Tuesday, the standard would increase, resulting in the department never dropping below eight firefighters per shift.

If that happened, to avoid having to pay significant overtime, Chew said it would result in the city having to hire two more firefighters per shift - or six total.

“Fires are won by manpower,” Chew said.

Also Tuesday, Chew touted the fire department for having a fire inspector on board, noting that the department is now averaging 45 inspections per month.

He also said the department’s “breathing air system” has been replaced over a three-year program and that three National Fire Academy courses have been hosted for Stephenville Fire Department and local departments.

In addition to increasing the minimum staffing level to eight firefighters per shift, Chew said his short-term goals are for the department to:

Purchase an “incident command vehicle,” Replace ambulances, Get fire/EMS electronic reporting system and software, Purchase a vehicle for the fire inspector, and Replace the 1984 “radio repeater.”

Furthermore, Chew said, the department in the long term needs to get a computerized accounting system and either open a new fire station or move an existing one.

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.