Fire chief puts truck on sale to help keep firefighter jobs

Fire chief puts truck on sale to help keep firefighter jobs

20 August 2011

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USA — Six firefighters were scheduled to be laid off at 7 a.m. Friday, bringing the total cut to 18.

The Fire Department now will have 36 firefighters and just 12 per shift. The firefighters’ expired contract stipulates a minimum of 14 per shift.

The 24-square-mile city has a population of 65,383.

“We’re going to have to eliminate a fire truck every day,” Fire Chief Bob Tompos said.

He said he is trying to sell the department’s ladder truck for $300,000 to keep some of his firefighters working.

“We have a potential buyer for it, but it has to be approved through council,” he said.

The City Council would have to agree to earmark the money for personnel costs for the department.

Some firefighters are working 96 hours at a time on overtime, but that might not last.

The department had budgeted $200,000 for “emergency overtime” and $5,500 for double time for this fiscal year, which started July 1, when the layoffs went into effect.

An amendment adopted several weeks ago by the council enabled the recall of six firefighters and gave the department about $92,000 — enough to pay six firefighters for five weeks, by which time both sides hoped to have a contract in place.

Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said he hoped the influx of cash would buy enough time to get a contract worked out; but, that has not been the case.

“We’re going to have to use some overtime to try to keep it at 12 a day,” Tompos said. “But the overtime budget is halfway gone. It’s going to be scary. Being without a full complement of people is going to be difficult.”

He said overtime has cost about $100,000 since July 1.

Lamarand has said he wants to figure out a way to permanently staff the department with fewer people.

“There just isn’t money there,” Lamarand said in a previous interview.

Tompos said he hopes further negotiations will bring some of the firefighters back.

“I hope we can reach some resolution quickly so we can keep serving the community the way we have been,” he said.

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