KTUU October 11, 2019
To make up for the deficit, the Anchorage Fire Department will cut back on overtime costs by shutting down companies when firefighters are sick or on vacation.
A budget shortfall of around $4 million could lead to equipment shutdowns for an Alaska fire department. Anchorage Fire Department’s funding gap arose in part from overtime costs incurred when firefighters are on vacation or out sick, KTUU-TV reports. To offset those expenditures, the department issued a variety of cost-cutting measures, which included shutting down fire companies and engines if they were understaffed.
Mike Stumbaugh, the head of Anchorage’s firefighters union, told KTUU the new policy could have firefighters who were sick or on vacation to report duty out of a sense of obligation to keep units from shutting down. He added that fire service could be compromised if units do need to shut down because they’re not properly staffed.
“When you do have a closure anywhere in town, it’s going to delay our response,” Stumbaugh said. And a new budget year might not be the end of the Anchorage’s shortfalls. According to Stumbaugh, the department could still see a deficit of around $1.6 million, despite an increase in funding.
“I do have faith in the mayor and the city manager that they’re going to do the right thing, and the right thing is not just taking care of us, it’s taking care of the citizens that they’re sworn to protect, just like we are,” he told KTUU.