Sandusky firefighters talk about looming cuts

Matt Westerhold
Feb 19, 2014
Ryan Brotherton, vice president of the Sandusky Fire Department’s firefighters union, and Sandusky fire Lt. Adam Butler were our guests today on “Between the Lines Live” at the Sandusky Register building in downtown Sandusky.
 
 
The city is looking to balance its 2014 operating budget by making personnel cuts in the Fire Department later this year, a move the union opposes.
 
 
Any more manpower decreases in the department will put residents and firefighters at risk, Brotherton said.

The department already has adjusted to severe cuts previously, reducing response teams. “It would be negligent to allow any more cuts,” Brotherton said.

Brotherton and Butler took

 questions from the audience.

Watch the program in the player below
 

Comments

KURTje

This is the real world. We are broke.

donutshopguy

It would be great if everyone was employed, had well paying jobs and got raises every year. But, that is not real life. The gravy train of unlimited public jobs and wages is at an end.

It's time to tighten our preverbal belts and learn to live within our means. This upcoming decade will be ugly and difficult but if we continue to" kick the can down the road" there will be no road left.

DGMutley

Donut,

Well worth listening to this broadcast if you haven't had a chance. Our community can't afford to lose these firefighters.

gennycreamale

Looks like times are tough for sure! Can't the guys in the picture afford some decent clothes if they are discussing business and promoting their beliefs. I know it does not matter and they have good points as the last cuts should be safety. However I think the guys drive the point home a little better when they appear to mean business and portray professionalism.
If by contract they can't wear a uniform when doing this interview how about a polo the union springs for and a pair of khakis.

Stop It

Are you kidding me? They're firemen. Not James freaking Bond goin' out to dinner.

If your first thought is how they dress rather than the issue at hand, you are one step off the planet. One more and you'll be "out there".

Northstar

He is wearing his "BLUES" that paramedics wear(uniform pants), with all the extra pockets and a dress shirt..PLEASE! Who cares if no tie. They are probably going right back onto shift from here.

pavedparadise

Adjusting to the state of the economy, the private sector has made adjustments including reducing staff and wage cuts--- and that includes union represented industry. The public sector needs to make the same adjustments whether in this case going to a partial volunteer fire department, reducing wages, increased insurance copays or a combination thereof.

The same should go for the top brass at City Hall.

I find it both and hysterical and disappointing while the town hall meetings being hosted by City Commissioner Murray showcases doom and gloom cuts in the fire and police departments yet shortly after he pushes the need to relocate City Hall at a major cost. Where are the priorities?

Comrade Boose

if you ever saw the last contract which is a public document the firefighters are paying more into their health insurance. If you read todays paper positions have been cut from the fire department, higher ranking along with higher paid positions have been cut. As for partial volunteers when a city runs over 5,500 calls a year that would be hard to do along with the cost of the volunteers maintain their certifications. .25% income tax increase along with a 1-2%addmision tax increase. Want volunteers put them in the law department. Make landlords held accountable for their properties and their tenants.

pavedparadise

Posts on previous articles pertaining to the issue have shown evidence a partial volunteer fire department will not increase residential insurance among other concerns.

Also keep in mind the majority of the 5,500 calls were for EMS not fires. From the 2013 Fire Department Report--"Eighty-four percent of all emergency activity was ambulance activity". So, the volunteers firefighters would be called in for fires only with the fulltime firefighters/EMS to respond to ambulance calls.

The question is, with a historically high $4.2 million General Fund carryover balance in 2014, are the Safety Services personnel being used as pawns and scares tactics used on residents to increase the income tax to pay for pet projects--Murray "I don't care where we move City Hall. It needs to get off tis (current) property"

Comrade Boose

Here is the Great thing about Sandusky Fire Department they can do both fire and EMS, but that's not all they handle inspections,diving,education, rescues and much more. True on the second part of your post.

Whoopball

Unions may have their place in the private sector where market forces will counter their demands, but in the public sector there isn't a competitive environment. If your government services get too expensive you can't choose a different supplier. The only thing which tempers their demands are the politicians, who receive contributions from the same unions they are charged to control. We must then boot out the politicians who allow services to get too expensive. We are tapped out and any politicians who don't get that do not deserve election.

Gardenman

I would agree partially with some comments made so far that times are rough and everyone has to share the burden.

Lets not forget though the money that has been wasted by past and some current city commissioners. The flawed job searches that we had to pay for an ineffective and inexperienced city manager, the snub of Erie County to use some of their office facilities vs the expensive city hall complex facility, etc etc. The money that has been wasted can not be recovered and quite honestly these fireman had nothing to do with that level of waste by city leaders.

While we all want efficient fire departments and costs so associated with salaries keep low honestly that all might carry no value the next time we have an emergency be a fire or EMS and only half the needed manpower shows for they have another emergency to cover as well. At that point those who have commented above will have no concern about unions, or high wages, or everyone sharing the burden for the only thing that will matter to them is maximum manpower and equipment arrives at your home in the emergency.

The problem here is not the city fireman were paid too much in salary and benefits but rather the city commissioners spent too much for fraud, waste and abuse.

Steve P

The four fire positions were funded by a federal grant. When the grant was received did anyone look ahead to plan for what would happen when the grant expired? Ironic that the chief who pushed for the grant decides to retire. The unfortunate part is that four firemen will loose their jobs.

Babo

Safety forces need to get behind an increase in the Admissions Tax.

Bogtrotter

.

crazyrick

What happen to volunteer firemen ?

Comrade Boose

They are working and haven't time to respond on over 5,500 calls a year.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

When is everybody going to understand what's really going on in this town they are sucking the middle class dry the unions gave a lot it's time for upper management to give something and not no lousy $400. They are all well overpaid and damn well not worth the money we pay them. You want to make changes is this town? Protest protest protest until they understand that they need to go backwards in their wages just like everyone else did in this city. I also think we should look into the double dippers in our city.

Gardenman

I agree. Look at Ard she is pulling down $129,000 and that does not include PERS retirement and city kicks in another 13% there and then there health care benefits. Clearly this woman is not doing her job and but yet she keeps her salary. I am one for dropping this city manager down to $80,000 or less and if she does not like it...........WELL there is the door don't let it hit you on the way out. If you are not doing the job then you don't get paid like you are doing the job. That is not a hard concept to understand BUT why do our past and some current city commissioners have such a hard time understanding that?

I have a pretty good belief these four fireman being let go are doing their job but they lose their job and Ard keeps hers.....there is something wrong with that picture.

margaritaville88

ARD = Wasteful salary...

Safety Services= Priceless..

pavedparadise

The majority of the 5,439 calls were for EMS not fires. From the 2013 Fire Department Report--"Eighty-four percent of all emergency activity was ambulance activity". So, the volunteers firefighters would be called in for fires only with the fulltime firefighters/EMS to respond to ambulance calls.

The question is, with a historically high $4.2 million General Fund carryover balance in 2014, are the Safety Services personnel being used once again as pawns and scare being tactics used on residents to increase the income tax to pay for pet projects--Murray "I don't care where we move City Hall. It needs to get off this (current) property" at substantial cost.

Gardenman has a valid point. Past and present City Commissions have spent money like running water and failed to collect or have forgiven delinquent dollars owed the City.

Northstar

One way to say money and make sure they have resources for a fire/emergency is to cut out EMS runs, trust me the firemen would not mind. Contract those with an outside company for EMS transport like Findlay did and a bunch of other cities do. That way we are safe for them to respond to accidents and fire and other emergencies.

Outside providers would love the contracts (boost more jobs in Sandusky and cheaper) and the individuals who call in asking the firemen to read their lotto numbers will be billed. They have to bill them, but if you live in the city your taxes covers it, nobody ever pays those bills individually.

Ambulance transport companies can handle the EMS calls that are not connected to a fire directly. Why run a firetruck out there.

MJKSON44

Dear PUBLICSAFETY your opinions are biased and it is sickening that you can sit here and talk about safety issues when YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON DUTY DISPATCHING FOR YOUR PRIVATE EMS COMPANY You should be listening to radios and answering 911 calls not commenting on here. Your supervisors deserve to know that you are commenting on here while on duty and putting peoples lives in danger. You have no business discussing this while on duty no wonder you are pro private ems you work for a private ems company and again are currently on duty spending more time on the blogs than you are answering phones and radios. Sorry my friend but youre busted

Northstar

They do more than play on computers in that private EMS company than should be going on. Private EMS is being killed off anyways with Obamacare and the cut on payments to them.

pavedparadise

Jason

Murray's Town Hall Meetings highlighted tow issues--fire and police cuts and moving City Hall. Hopefully Safety Services and taxpayers will realize they are being played as pawns to increase taxes to pay for pet projects in a time Sandusky has a $4.2 million carryover balance

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

This was an interesting interview to watch and I was glad that I was able to catch it. Unfortunately the town hall I wanted to attend was closed due to weather but I'll still be there Monday and urge others to attend. No matter your thoughts on the budget, viewing or participating in local government (even the five minutes behind the podium) is vital for the sharing of ideas and to let your elected officials know you care enough to speak up.

Mr. Westerhold as for your next BTL since the topic of comment policy is rather hot within your readership perhaps that could be something to address? I wouldn't mind coming down to offer some options and discuss Internet culture. Beyond me you could probably find others from the comment section who may want to come on and offer their opinions (or at least have them submit it via...comments). You could also discuss the thoughts from the SR's side as well as how moderation is enforced.

IrishEyes

Good points presented by firefighters Butler and Brotherton in the BTL interview. I think cutting safety personnel should be a FINAL option, to be considered only after all other avenues have been explored. First should be raising the admissions tax. I'd also vote for a levy to fund fire and police operations LONG before giving any more money to the schools.

Mr. Murray has proposed one bad idea after another since taking office, and he's only been a Commissioner for a couple of months. I shudder to think what else he plans to shove down our throats during the remainder of his term.

Mr. D

Does The City of Sandusky charge for ambulance calls?
Most of the area fire depts., city, village, township ect charge resident or their insurance.

Northstar

If you live in the city or township, your taxes cover it. You do not pay the bill. The money they can sometimes get is from Medicare because a patient fell at a nursing home and is in need of transport to a hospital. Or out of town visitors. Insurance does not cover transport and does in most cases not apply to your deductible. Most have a discount, but you pay the majority of it.

Northstar

If you live in the city or township, your taxes cover it. You do not pay the bill. The money they can sometimes get is from Medicare because a patient fell at a nursing home and is in need of transport to a hospital. Or out of town visitors. Insurance does not cover transport and does in most cases not apply to your deductible. Most have a discount, but you pay the majority of it.

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