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24 Civilian EMS Personnel Possible Layoffs City of Lawrence, IN

Sunday, August 26, 2012  The Mayor of the City of Lawrence has proposed cuts of more than $600,000 to the Fire Department which will encompass cutting ALL 24 of our Civilian EMS personnel (EMT-B's and Paramedics) and utilizing our existing firefighters to backfill the ambulances.  Our Civilian EMS Personnel represent about 23% of our total workforce.





One Department's Approach to the Budget Crisis - Movie Trailer

YouTube Video Courtesy of Redwood City Fire

Thursday, February 17, 2011  "We Never Had A Fire" Redwood City Fire Department Movie Trailer that will appear in Redwood City, CA Theatres soon!

We all could use a lesson in finding new and creative ways to get positive messages out to the public about the fire service. We have learned from our adjacent jurisdictions recent campaigns that negative slander against our city governments is not effective and rarely producies positive results.





LayOffs in Reno

Saturday, January 16, 2010  The Reno Fire Department issued layoff notices to 16 employees today, two were clerical staff, two fire prevention officers and 12 front line firefighters.

"A difficult day for the department and the community  




Fire Department, already squeezed, could face job cuts

Friday, January 15, 2010  The Baltimore Fire Department, already forced to shutter fire stations daily to save money, could eliminate nearly 10 percent of its front-line force by laying off as many as 125 firefighters and closing a dozen companies this summer if dire budget projections come true, according to city and union officials.

Bob Sledgeski, president of the firefighters union, called the potential cuts a "doomsday scenario" that he called "devastating." The department is still reeling from a fatal fire to which response was slowed because the nearest fire company was temporarily closed amid budget cuts.

Fire Chief James S. Clack has held a series of closed-door meetings with labor leaders to discuss the budget, but he has not made any official announcement to the public.

In an interview Thursday, he cautioned that the projections are based on early assessments, made months ahead of hard figures and well before he has to submit a budget plan to city finance officials in March.

Clack called the numbers - he described a worst case as laying off 125 firefighters - part of one "planning scenario" based on projections that anticipate lower revenue from property taxes and possible cuts in state aid. Legislators are meeting in Annapolis now, and what money the city gets "is a great unknown," the chief said.

"Our goal in this process is to not lay anybody off," Clack said. "We don't know what any of the final numbers are going to be. In some ways, this is all an academic exercise. I think it's going to be better than our planning scenario shows."


Budget decisions weeks away
City agencies are weeks if not months away from crafting budgets for the next fiscal year, and it is unusual for officials to mention even the possibility of layoffs so early in what can be an arduous process.

Mayors typically cut public safety only as a last resort. The disclosure that Fire Department cuts could be so deep is certain to raise debate among the public, as well as among city and state lawmakers. It could also be one of the first issues addressed by the incoming mayor, Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who as City Council president called for a reduction in the number of rotating firehouse closures.

Clack said he believes staffing levels are adequate, but he refused to say whether reducing the force would endanger public safety.

"The more firefighters we have, the better job we can do of getting to a fire in four minutes," Clack said. "If we have less, we get there slower and it affects firefighter safety and it affects property loss." He said if it takes 10 minutes to get to someone suffering a heart attack, "We can't help you. Our business is saving lives. Time and money is what we deal with."

The Fire Department is funded for 1,790 employees, which includes about 1,300 firefighters and 200 paramedics. The rest are support staff, and there are 90 vacancies.

The department's budget for this fiscal year is $153 million, of which $139 million comes from the city and the rest from state funds and revenue generated from medical calls. Clack said projections show a $3 million cut next fiscal year in city money. Factoring in rising costs, he said, could translate into a $6.5 million cut in real money.

Adding to Baltimore's fiscal strain, public funding for the city's fire and police pensions could nearly double this year, from $82 million to $165 million.

City financial officials have warned that property taxes might have to rise to help pay the costs or agencies will be faced with "significant reductions."

Among cities in the Northeast, Baltimore ranks near the top in terms of firefighters per capita, Clack said. Yet he cautioned that the city is near average when comparing staffing with the number of fires and square miles covered. Firefighters and paramedics respond to more than 235,000 emergency calls each year.

Clack said in addition to 125 layoffs, other cuts could meaning losing between nine and 14 companies and eliminating the next five academy classes. The budget talks were first reported Wednesday night by WBAL-TV.

Mayor Sheila Dixon postponed until July the permanent closure of two firehouses and cut the number of rotating closures from five companies a day to four.

Her decision came after the rotating closure of one fire company contributed to a delay in firefighters' response to a West Baltimore house fire. One man died in the blaze.

In mid-December, hundreds of city firefighters marched on City Hall to protest cutbacks and complain that the city is risking lives to save money. Sledgeski complained that Dixon, who leaves office Feb. 4, cannot be trusted to maintain fire service and that calling her just weeks before her departure would be futile.

"With the current administration, I wouldn't be surprised with anything she did to the Fire Department," the union president said. "She's shown a willingness to put the public at risk by cutting the Fire Department to the bone."


Incoming mayor 'gets it'
He praised the incoming mayor, who he said has "taken the time to tour the firehouses and sit down and have dinner with the firefighters. I think she gets it."

Rawlings-Blake's spokesman, Ryan O'Doherty, said "all the agencies, not just fire, are looking at different budget scenarios to prepare for next year. Absolutely nothing is final or even close to being final." But, he added, "People are planning for very difficult circumstances."

Clack said he has met only briefly with Rawlings-Blake but expects a more detailed meeting after she takes office. The incoming mayor has publicly said she plans to retain Clack as fire chief.

Clack praised both Rawlings-Blake and Dixon for their commitment to the department but said it's possible the new mayor might have different priorities and different ways of looking at the budget and finding money.

He said there is no way at the moment to reduce the rotating closures, noting, "We're not going to have any more new money. The city is scrambling to cover a deficit this current fiscal year."

The chief said officials will have to decide by July 1 whether to continue the policy of rotating closures, even if more fire companies close.

He said if the department can be funded at the level it is now, there would be no need for layoffs.

Sledgeski cautioned that the numbers remain fluid and uncertain, but he noted, "Obviously, the fire chief is saying it, so there is some concern that some cuts are going to come. But I don't want to raise the alarm for something that we're not fairly sure is going to happen."





East St. Louis, MO - Video from Fire with only 6 firefighters responding

Sunday, January 10, 2010  This fire was reported just before 12:30 AM on December 23. It happened at City Nights in East St. Louis, Illinois. The business had been embroiled in controversy after a man was run over and killed behind the club in October. The liquor license had been suspended and the place was shut down by the time the fire occurred.

The video from the helmet-cam above and below is best viewed in HD. This is some really clear helmet-cam viewing.

Also quite interesting, considering the significant amount of fire, is the comment posted by the administrator of when he posted this video on Friday afternoon:

We have a blighted dept and only had 6 firefighters, 2 engines and a ladder on this fire because of budget cuts. At one point they told us to evacuate, but we waited too long. It could have been bad. Lesson learned.





Lakewood, NJ EMS Fighting LayOffs

Saturday, December 26, 2009  The township is looking to eliminate its Emergency Medical Services Department by as early as the end of February, Committeeman Steven Langert confirmed, meaning some 28 workers could lose their jobs

Lakewood's EMS unit, which pays its employees, had a deficit last year of $770,000 — a debt that is expected only to increase this year and the next, town officials said. Privatizing the service would potentially save the town between $800,000 and $1 million, according to Langert.

"We believe another provider can give better service than the township can to our residents and can do it at a better price than we can," he said.

The Township Committee has informed the EMS's union of its plans to dissolve the department and authorized its attorney to solicit contract bids from outside companies. The move, if it happens, would lay off 16 full-time and 10 to 12 part-time employees, officials said. The township currently has two ambulances that, along with Hatzolah — the emergency responder for Orthodox Jewish residents — service some 85,000 people within 25 square miles.

"There will be absolutely no loss of services" with the switch, Langert said.





Layoffs/Furloughs In Store for Baltimore

Sunday, August 30, 2009  Mayor Sheila Dixon plans to dip into the city's $13.5 million "undesignated surplus" funds, lay off about 100 city workers and implement across-the-board furloughs to close a $60.2 million budget shortfall caused by state cuts and declining city revenue estimates, according to union leaders who met with city officials this week and a budget document obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

The plan also includes using $11 million to $12 million of excess funds from last year, continuing a budget freeze already in place and deferring some unspecified capital projects. The briefing did not touch on expected reductions to city services; one City Hall official said Dixon may ax the city's bulk trash pickup to save $1 million.

Scott Peterson, a City Hall spokesman, declined to comment on the plan. It is preliminary and depends on willingness from the city's unions to accept furloughs in order to forestall deeper layoffs. If union and nonunion employees are furloughed, the city would save $13.5 million and layoffs could be limited to fewer than 100.

Employees who are not represented by unions would save the city $3.8 million by taking furloughs. Union furloughs save the city $9.7 million.

If unions don't accept furloughs, city officials laid out an option where they would save the $9.7 million by laying off an additional 222 to 286 employees, according to the briefing. Baltimore employs about 15,000 workers.

"We understand the predicament that the mayor is in," said Robert F. Cherry, the head of the city's police union, who said he needs to talk with top police and administration officials before he knows whether the members will take furloughs.

Their contract with the city includes a "no furlough" clause, he said. "What do furloughs mean for the rank-and-file and morale and fighting crime?" he asked. "We want the officers to know that the work they did over the last year is appreciated."

Bob Sledgeski, the head of the firefighters' union, bristled at the idea of furloughs and lashed out at the city's finance director, Edward J. Gallagher, who he said has patched the city's $2.3 billion budget together with "baling wire and bubble gum."

Sledgeski said his 1,400 members already receive lower salaries than nearby jurisdictions. "I hope that he [Gallagher] is not going to make that lower," Sledgeski said.

Capt. Stephan Fugate, the head of the fire officers union, described either scenario - furloughs or layoffs - as "ugly." He said he worries that any reduction in the fire force will mean more closures of fire companies, which he believes would endanger neighborhoods and firefighters.

Glenard S. Middleton Sr., a statewide leader in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - a union that represents many city workers - said that he was pleased Dixon is considering furloughs on a sliding scale in which those who make more money would have to take more days off.

While a furlough plan has not been completed, those familiar with the current thinking say it could require workers who make less than $50,000 to take five days off without pay, those who make between $50,000 and $100,000 to take eight days, and those who make more than $100,000 to take 10 days off.





Lehigh Acres district lays off 35 firefighters, 3 staff

Tuesday, August 18, 2009  The Lehigh Acres fire district announced today that 35 firefighters and three administrative staffers have been laid off, said spokesman Patrick Comer.

Ambulance service is being trimmed from five to three ambulances, and the district also is closing its headquarters, Station No. 5, which is located at Bell and Milwaukee boulevards.

The station wasn’t staffed today. A brush truck, an ambulance and a ladder truck were sitting idle there.

The district lost almost 49 percent of taxable property value this year because of plummeting property values. The cuts are a way to make up for the lost tax dollars needed to operate the district.

One of the three administrative employees who were laid off is Comer.





Firefighters see cuts eroding safety

Friday, June 19, 2009  By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Thousands of firefighters across the country face possible layoffs this year, prompting concern that deep local government budget cuts will delay emergency response times.
Since late last year, cities have been forced to shutter local fire stations, reduce services at others and cut the number of firefighters dispatched on emergency calls. Firefighting positions have been eliminated or are on the chopping block in cities such as Orlando, Atlanta, Flint, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio.
"Whatever you do that results in increasing response times (to fires), you are absolutely playing Russian roulette," says Harold Schaitberger, head of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF).
Up to 5,000 firefighting jobs could be in jeopardy, according to an IAFF survey of members, which includes 292,000 firefighters.
Among those facing the most severe cutbacks:
• The elimination of 22 firefighters and other cuts in Flint, Mich., are being blamed by some residents and fire union officials for slowing the response to a fatal fire in April.
Mark Kovach, vice president of the local firefighters union, believes the lack of a nearby ladder and water truck taken out of service by cuts hampered the rescue. Flint Mayor Michael Brown believes the tragedy "could not have been avoided."
• In Atlanta, personnel shortages have forced 24-hour closures of several fire stations and the city's overall public protection rating was downgraded this month. The lower rating could result in up to 10% higher insurance premiums, says Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John Oxendine. "The most important function of any government is the protection of life and property," he says.
• Proposed budget cuts in Columbus are targeting 238 firefighters and seven of the city's 32 fire stations, says Battalion Chief David Whiting. "These cuts would set us back 10 years," he says.
• Orlando officials will lay off 46 firefighters, effective Oct. 2, says union President Steve Clelland.
The issue has become so heated that a labor dispute and threatened picket lines involving Providence firefighters forced Obama administration officials to cancel appearances at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting there.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged the troubles facing local fire agencies when she told a Senate panel last month that the administration would double hiring assistance to fire departments to $420 million in 2010.





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