Walt Disney World’s firefighters are speaking out. The Reedy Creek Firefighters Association spoke with the Orlando Sentinel and outlined concerns about inadequate staffing to keep guest safe at Walt Disney World.
Staffing was reduced during the pandemic, but it reportedly hasn’t been increased back to normal levels since Walt Disney World reopened. The article also details that the Reedy Creek Fire Department hasn’t increased staffing levels since 1989 despite Walt Disney World expanding around them.
Via the Orlando Sentinel:
Union members say the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which runs the resort’s emergency services, reduced staffing when the parks closed in March 2020 as part of an agreement to avoid layoffs, and now they are not adequately staffed to respond to a fire at a resort hotel, much less a large-scale emergency.
Recently, guests saw fire crews respond to what ended up being a small fire near Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Thankfully that was a small incident, but the comments from the Reedy Creek Firefighters Association stresses that they aren’t staffed to handle a serious problem.
The article also highlights a sad incident where a woman passed away at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Union members of the Reedy Creek Fire Department believe she may have lived if they had the appropriate resources to respond to the call.
Then there’s the Disney Skyliner. The newest transportation at Walt Disney World connects two theme parks and four resorts. But, as we saw in 2019, one incident can leave guests stranded for hours. Even with optimal staffing, which the firefighters say they don’t have, rescues can take hours.
Via the Orlando Sentinel:
Rescue from the Skyliner could take 60 to 90 minutes for each of the gondola’s 300 cabins with optimal staffing, he said. Fellow firefighters refuse to ride it.
That’s a concerning note for guests.
The emergency crew staffing shortage is a problem that stretches beyond Walt Disney World property. When Reedy Creek’s crews are unable to respond to a call, other nearby departments are called in. That puts an additional strain on those systems. Those crews also aren’t as familiar with Disney property, which can add life-threatening delays.
This is an issue Disney must take seriously. In an era where budget cuts and reduced staffing are the norm, public safety is not an area that should be trimmed. Safety is one the Disney Keys (or values) that ranks above all else.
Walt Disney World continues to expand its footprint and add new areas (Disney Skyliner, more hotels, etc) that depend on local emergency services. Disney must respond appropriately and provide enough staff and emergency equipment to prevent a future disaster.