I am not sure if anyone noticed. Hell, everyone may take it as the norm anymore…but the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department just got 6 positions lighter. When the budget was approved last week, 6 firefighter/EMT positions were on the chopping block. Without even a whimper the positions were lost or “unfunded” as they are technically considered at this point.

I bet there are firefighters that don’t even know what just happened.

The truth is that if they were just going to be unfunded the proper way of doing that would have been to just have a hiring freeze until more than 6 positions were open and not hire for the 6. The way it was handled stinks of deceit. Firefighters have always maintained that if you shoot us straight we will shoot you straight! Why do all of the lies and half truths continue.

I can’t help but be reminded of the time that Bev Fitzpatrick patronized us by saying that Historic Station 1 would not be shut down and then carried out the voted to build the new station 1. I am not trying to harp on an old subject but why did he feel the need to try to sugarcoat the issue and tell the public that half truth. More on that subject…Roanoke’s citizens were told that the historic station 1 would remain open with light duty personnel. That hasn’t been the case in almost a year though. All the while, we have had firefighters on and off of light duty.

I spoke in the past of meeting with Delegate William Fralin at the General Assembly in Richmond and he asked why it wasn’t open. He enjoyed taking his children to see the station including the old trucks, artifacts, and history.

Back to why I am writing this post…

Roanoke’s Firefighters are sick and tired of the continued loss in public safety. Sick and tired to the point that it seems they don’t even want to take the time to fight more and more cuts. That includes the Police Department too. Fewer Officers on the streets leads to increased times in getting to the patient if there is a threat to us first responders. We have to wait on PD, who is substantially short handed because they can’t fill the positions they have.

The Budget is on the forefront of news this week. City Council is trying to hone in on what will be the cuts for the future year. I am sure many of you remember we lost 6 or 9 positions last year (still unclear on the number). This year we already stand to lose 6 according to the Roanoke Times. Those 6 were once told they were going to take from Clearbrook and move to Station 8 to put Medic 8 in service. It will be interesting to see what happens. You can read the Roanoke Times article here.

Nine firefighters will retire this year from the Roanoke Fire EMS Department. The retirements stem from an incentive to leave before December 1st after giving notice by March 16th. The incentive comes just in time to beat the increase in health care next year which ranges from $100 to $200 per month depending on the health care plan. Forty-Six Roanoke City employees took advantage of the retirement incentive. Read more abou the retirements here. Congratulations to those who will be retiring. Estimates are that the guys leaving have around 230-250 years of service. I look forward to attending some of the retirement parties!

The City Council voted to suspend the 457 contribution paid by the City effective April 1st. The contribution was a match up to $25 per paycheck. I am not sure how many employees Roanoke City has, but based on 1200 if everyone took advantage of the match, Roanoke City will save 780k each year or 30k per period the match is suspended. The suspension was put in place to help Roanoke City cover a budget deficit this fiscal year. Hopefully, they will add it into the budget for next year. The news of the suspension was emailed out via City email.