Firefighters on the hot seat

Layoffs could hit Sandusky fire department
Andy Ouriel
Dec 29, 2012


Richard Patterson’s path to land his dream job rivaled the difficulties aspiring doctors or lawyers face when obtaining their 
“I spent four years looking for a job, took 30 civil service tests and competed with hundreds of people for one position,” Patterson said.
Finally in June 2011, Sandusky officials fulfilled Patterson’s dream when they swore him in as the department’s newest firefighter and paramedic.
“This was probably one of the biggest things for me,” Patterson said.
But a grant subsidizing Patterson and five others firefighters’ salaries, will expire in three months — and city officials have no concrete plan to keep them employed after March.
The Department of Homeland Security awarded Sandusky fire with a $1 million grant in March 2011, covering two years of salaries for six firefighters.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, helped secure the grant for Sandusky.
The grant allowed city officials to increase department staffing levels to 53 firefighters, all capable of executing emergency-relief services to those facing life-threatening situations.
Beginning in March, however, the city needs to find $280,000 in an already tight budget to keep six city firefighters on the force beyond 2013.
The six firefighters total salary, including wages and benefits, equals roughly $380,000 a year. The grant will cover the first $100,000 through 2013’s first quarter.
City officials said they’ll pursue acquiring another grant.
But in this fiscal climate — as the nation’s debt continues to escalate beyond $16.4 trillion— it’s a rather low possibility they’ll get federal dollars for local firefighters.
Read more in Saturday's Register.



Thanks for the invitation! I'd take you up on it if I had questions or problems with the way the Fire Department itself is run, but I don't. If it wasn't clear from my comments, let me make it so: My issues have been, and continue to be, with the City leadership from the Commissioners to the (nominal) Manager.

I have absolutely no complaints with the way you've run your department, and if it helps, I haven't heard complaints from anybody I've talked to, either. I'm sure that a part of your job is to ensure that we're all as safe as possible (including your men and women), and that you're to convey that to those who actually sign off on budgetary matters. If you can show that the City actually NEEDS these five employees, then it's up to the Commission, etc. to figure out how to pay for it.

Here's an open suggestion to City leaders: Police and Fire are non-negotiable. So's road safety and the water/sewer infrastructure. Everything else? Well, that can come or go as it's affordable. Parks, parties, remodeling, administrative support staff, even raises. If priorities need to be made (and a responsible budget would do that as a matter of course regardless of financial health), safety comes LONG before flowers! Sorry, but am I wrong?


Thank you Paul for being open. The problem is our governor saw this coming and helped fix it. Then the unions got all their families and friends to overturn sb5. We dont blame you and thank you for doing your job. We just cant do anything now that it was overturned.

DEEPsix's picture

Paul, you are doing a great job from all accounts, and its a sad state of affairs that WE all are under this financial crunch. You are a man who grew up in Huron, hearing the siren going off for the volunteers to come to station, and going to help those who needed help. I think that sound as you were growing up embued a sense of "I have to help" long ago. With these budget issues, its time to ask, those who have received in the past their due, to now offer to help again. I have never met a fireman, or any other first responder, who was in the biz for money. So, maybe those on retirement can help a little again. It's time to ask everyone, lets help... but it isnt time to demand WE THE PEOPLE ask government to be our first responder. Everyone across the board must step up. Maybe to the point Sandusky adds VOLUNTEERS to the force across the city.
you knew my dad well, my whole family, and my dad served HFD for 30 yrs. As a volunteer.

Dinghy Gal

Cudos for Paul.


As a Start, COLLECT the $2800 that is owed to the city by the Erie County Democratic Party for Obama's private party during the campaign. That's the first 1% without any new taxes.


I believe the use of volunteers to supplement the government workers is a great idea.

Fire Departments started out as a volunteer service in this country. Nothing wrong with giving back to your community through effort rather than increased taxes.

The unlimited flow of government money is coming to an end. Hope the Chief understands and takes the necessary steps to keep his department a value to the community not a burden.

Dinghy Gal

Guess what, volunteers still have to be trained and still get paid.


Yep, but the pay and benefits for a volunteer are not even close to a full time government employee.


I think Sandusky needs to take a look at running a joint fire district with Perkins and also take a look at the City of Ashland who supplements fire service with volunteers. A combination department that utilize a volunteer service as part of their fulltime service to get the staffing and protection the city and surrounding community needs. Just my thoughts and prospective... take a look around as funding decreases, thinking outside the box, consolidation, and creative uses of resources must increase!

Swamp Fox

Volunteers? Wonder what the union the reps the firefighters would say about that? Joint fire district great idea, except the local politicians won't give up their power..



So it all boils down to power. Power for the firefighter union and power for politicians.

It's sad but you are correct. It's not what's best for the community or what the community can afford. It's all about power.


For those talking about volunteers you should be close to a F.House when the "local volleys" arrive for a run. Not very safe imo. What is the legal speed to arrive at the F.House for volleys? Keep the pros forget the volleys.