Published: Sep 21, 2012 6:23 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- If your house is on fire it might take the Cape Coral Fire Department longer to get there. WINK News has obtained a disturbing letter that says because of budget cuts and a lack of funding the department isn't up to par.

A lack of training and equipment that's well below industry standards: Fire Chief Bill Van Helden says because of a lack of funds the fire department is doing more with less, and its hurting them.  

First responders are pretty much one of the most important parts of our city government," said Cape resident Courtney Fraser.  

Chief Van Helden details the concerns in a letter to City Manager John Szerlag.  

"You need to have someone there in minutes to save a home," said Cape resident Lisa Chehardy.

But WINK News has learned in many cases it's taking a lot longer.  

In 2000, according to the chief, the department was responding to calls in five minutes or less 60 percent of the time.

That's the city's goal every year.


But now the department is only responing in five mintues or less 37 percent of the time  

According to the letter there's also a staffing concern. At Fire Station 10 in the north section of Cape Coral, off Gator Circle, it's here the chief says there are only 2 personnel here.   He says that's not up to industry standards to cover the entire neighborhood.

Andrew and Lisa Chehardy live right across the street from the fire station and say the statistics are alarming, but they feel the department is doing all it can with what it has.  

"All the guys in there are terrific," said Andrew Chehardy.    

The city manager was unavailable for comment today.