Firefighters on the hot seat
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.