I think that most firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief after the announcements of the budget reductions for the Fiscal Year 2009. The impacts of the reductions will fortunately be a lot less than the rumors had them. However, we are not out of the woods yet. The announcement is for the year ending on June 30th. More than likely, we will see more changes for the next fiscal year in the form of budget cuts.
For now, the reductions will mean less fuel usage, less training expenditures, less overtime, and a reduction in part-time medic 101 staffing. The reductions also have a hiring “freeze” and promotional “freeze”. Right now, we might only have one or two open positions. With the incentive for retirements between July 1 and December 1 and increased insurance for those who retire after December 31st, we might foresee up to a dozen openings by the end of the year.
Luckily the rumors of a furlough, loss of the ICMA match, and other reductions are not founded at this time.
The reductions are listed below.
- Training and travel requiring city funding will be suspended unless already approved. Additionally, Rescue Challenge held in May has been canceled for this year at the recommendation of all three area Fire Chiefs.
- In order to manage overtime liability, the Battalion Chiefs of Training, Airport and EMS Health and Safety will back fill as necessary if daily staffing levels drop below 63.
- Part-time medic unit 101 staffing has been scaled back to 10 hour days effective March 2, 2009.
- Reduction of code enforcement and inspection activities out of the fire marshal’s office
- Pre-Fire Planning suspended until July 1, 2009
- Hydrant Maintenance suspended until Fall 2009
- Hiring Process suspended until Fall or Winter of 2009/2010
- Promotional process suspended until Fall 2009. Fall testing dates will be posted by April 1, 2009.
- Company Officers are to police all unnecessary trips out of the station and consolidate necessary trips when possible.
- Company Officers are to conserve energy usage by keeping doors closed, thermostats set at a reasonable temperature, turning off unnecessary lighting, etc.
These are the department specific reductions, there may be more handed down from the City. One City reduction that has already occurred is the Tuition Assistance Program, it has been suspended as of February 23rd.
Hopefully, things don’t get too bad for the next budget year. Trust me, things could be a lot worse. With the economy the way it is, things will more than likely get much worse before they get better. Hopefully it doesn’t get too bad though.