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Fight fire with …

Submitted by on 1, October 22, 2008 – 2:00 pmNo Comment

The other day we were walking by our local coffee shop and we spotted a poster featuring a burning building, with a website address about saving firehouses at the bottom. By this morning we had totally forgotten the address and were about to run back over there when we saw that someone had conveniently placed a door hanger on the knob with all the information we needed.

“YOUR SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY,” the hanger began ominously. At the bottom was a tear-off postcard for us to sign and send in if we want to “keep our neighborhood firehouses open.”

The City Council is slated to hold what we’ll call an early conversation tonight about the grim budget picture they face for next year (think $5 million in potential cuts). And your local firefighters want their voices to be heard. They say they’ve already cut their department to the bone, and that if they have to cut any further, your safety could be impacted.

“Our honest to God belief and our philosophy is, you guys have the right to know what level of safety is being taken away from you,” Jeff DelBono of the firefighters union told us. “There’s no way we can provide the service to you guys that you pay for now in a safe and reasonable way with a decrease in our numbers.”

Fire Chief David Kapler argued in his report to the council listing potential budget cuts, including rotating firehouse brownouts, that there’s really nowhere else to cut. “There is no program or activity to cut that will not have significant impact on the department,” Kapler wrote. “The only place left to effect any significant saving is by reducing service levels.”

He said that the city could save $127,000 in overtime costs if it hired six additional firefighters (of the eight whose positions the union says were cut in 2004).

DelBono said the firefighters will be distributing more door hangers and fliers and holding town hall meetings to get their message across. The first is to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 29 at Crosstown Coffeehouse, 1303 High Street.

That website, by the way, is here. And keep your eyes peeled here, ‘coz as always, we’re sure there is more to come.

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