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Fire staffing on ballot?

Submitted by on 1, October 24, 2008 – 10:00 amNo Comment

Yesterday on our (ha ha!) day off of sorts, we took the kids to the firefighters’ annual pumpkin patch at Franklin Park. This year there was a hell of a line, which was being worked by eager firefighters pleading the case for their services.

We zeroed in on a fresh-faced new hire who told one of our linemates something very interesting: Firefighters may look to put something on the ballot next year that, if passed, would mandate minimum staffing requirements at the department.

“We’re thinking about it,” the firefighters’ union’s Jeff DelBono told us that evening. DelBono said the union could seek to put such a measure on the ballot in June. They told the City Council this week that they need at least 27 firefighters per shift to keep the city and its fire staff safe. The council is considering (very early) budget cuts for next year that could include slashing fire department overtime, which could lead to rotating fire station brownouts.

In his report to the council, Fire Chief David Kapler estimated the department has been spending about $30,000 a week on overtime since June 20. Based on the way things are going, Kapler estimated those brownouts could begin in mid-November.

In the meantime, DelBono said the firefighters handed out about 700 pumpkins.

More to come, we’re sure …

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