Firefighter cuts too dangerous

guest
Feb 19, 2014

"Watch "Between the Lines Live" interview with Sandusky FIre Lt. Adam Butler and firefighter and union vice president Ryan Brotherton and Butler at 5 p.m. today or on demand, anytime, at sanduskyregister.com. 

By RYAN BROTHERTON
IAFF Local 327 Vice President

As everyone knows by now, the city of Sandusky is facing a budget shortfall — or is it?

The city is starting the year with a positive balance — $4,227,678 in carryover funds — so why are firefighters being laid off?

The elected officials are looking to take about $800,000 away from the fire department. That includes the elimination of four full-time positions; eliminating $42,600 from the overtime budget; eliminating $41,799 in costs from yearly required medical exams to ensure firefighters are healthy enough to perform their jobs; and an additional $250,000 from the the fire department’s EMS fund on top of the $150,000 the city takes from the fund each year.

Budget vote Monday includes firefighter cuts

The EMS fund is money collected by the fire department from ambulance billing. The men and women of the Sandusky Fire Department responded to 5,428 emergency calls last year; 4,531 of these calls were EMS-related and 897 were fire-related.

Sandusky firefighters and EMTs respond to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and earned every dime in the EMS fund. It is unfair for the city to deny the fire department access to it to pay overtime costs that would allow a manpower level to respond to all emergency calls.

Denying the fire department access to the account coupled with the city’s plan to tap into it for the additional $250,000 to pay other expenses, essentially means cutting jobs and reducing our ability to respond in emergency situations.

Members of IAFF Local 327 have responded to some of the worst emergencies this city has ever seen, from murders and violent crimes to arson fires that turn into homicide investigations.

City officials are under the false impression a federal grant that is expiring was used to create six new firefighter positions. In reality, the funding was used to maintain six positions that already existed. The federal grant was not used to create new jobs, it was used to bring back firefighters who had been laid off.

Sandusky Fire Lt. Adam Butler applied for and secured the grant money before he was promoted and it allowed the department to maintain stable staffing levels and consequently, safety for our citizens.

So, how can the city target the fire department and deny us the right to use money we rightfully earned? These cuts leave us short four firefighters, and will leave residents less safe.

The most confusing part of this situation, perhaps, is how elected officials are claiming their goal is to rebuild Sandusky, bring in revenue by opening up new businesses and encourage people to move into the city. Sounds good, right? But we are not going to rebuild Sandusky by making it less safe. No one will open up new businesses, move in or visit an unsafe city. An unsafe city is exactly what Sandusky will be with fewer firefighters.

The tourism industry here means, at any given time, the city’s population can jump from 25,000 to more than 100,000 people. Who is going to help these people when they call 911 and no squads or engines are available to respond? Who is going to answer to the people who face loss of life and property because there was no one to help them?

Who will watch our backs while we are watching everyone else’s?

This I can guarantee: The members of Local 327 do this job because we love what we do. We love helping people. No matter what, we will do our best with how thin we will be stretched.

It is not the fault of residents — they’re being used as pawns in this political game, and they should not have to suffer. If city commission follows through with layoffs, however, the citizens who trust us will suffer the most.

If our elected officials wholeheartedly care about this city and its people, they will not throw them to the wolves and put their lives at risk by laying off firefighters and making the city unsafe.

If there is a life hazard, our firefighters will be there, even if it means we’re short-staffed and do not have anyone there to help us if something happens to us inside. We are professional firefighters. We took an oath to protect this city, and that is what we will do.

The International Association of Firefighters IAFF Local 327 urges the city to do the same. Protect the people who elected you; protect the firefighters who protect you. Make the money we earned available to us. City commissioners appear ready to use it for what they want; instead, let us use it for what we need.

I ask commissioners to ask themselves: What if one day you or your family member falls to the floor in cardiac arrest and there are no units available to respond or the firehouse closest to your home is closed? What if your property catches fire with someone inside and there is no one to respond?

You might say that will never happen to me, but think about the people it will happen to. It might not be you, but someone will suffer the consequences of your budget cuts.

Get today's Register for a breakdown of the city's 2014 budget. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy a Register every day at a newsstand near you. 

Comments

topcop1991

The life these brave men save could be yours or a loved one. How will the powers to be feel when someone dies because response was slowed by lack of trained manpower. These men and ladies train hard to do a job 90% of the population could or would not do. GOD bless all of the them, and believe me, if you cut staff, a life will be unfortunately lost somewhere, sometime.

donutshopguy

topcop,

With your thought process, why don't we put a policeman and fireman in each home? Wouldn't it be safer? Think of the lives we could save.

GoBigLex2001

I keep guns, ammo and a fire extinguisher in my house. Cheaper..lol

Comrade Boose

Great Letter to the editor! Donutshopnut the point is police and fire are not asking for more they only want to maintain. Why don't you get on board and care for others instead of having your own agenda. Sure bringing the departments up to their past numbers would be great also.

donutshopguy

Comrade,

"police and fire are not asking for more they only want to maintain"

"Sure bring the departments to their past numbers would be great also"

You say one thing and then in the next sentence contradict yourself. You make no sense.

If you are so hyped up on adding more police and firemen start a petition to add a levy to the community to fill your needs. Then let them decide. It's the American way.

Comrade Boose

No contradictions you simpleton don't try to twist my words. Instead of hiding behind your name on here show up Monday and talk your nonsense. Facts are facts, longer response time will result in fire loss and deaths.

reader

It's irresponsible to layoff safety forces dealing with increasing call volume when the city won't raise the admission tax.

donutshopguy

It's irresponsible to spend money you don't have. At least at my house.

Comrade Boose

Listen simpleton why is this so hard for you to comprehend the city has the money the city choose not to use the money, but chooses instead to gamble with firefighters lives and even your life assuming you live in the city.

Dr. Information

Just like the school levy, put a fire levy up for vote. If the residents say no, then they say no.

KURTje

"Like a good neighbor State Farm is there." We are broke.

Morningbreezes1

Topcop, Very well said.
Donutshopguy... God Forbid if your property ever went up in flames, you'd probably be the first one to bit*h. And also Re-read the comment that Comrade Boose wrote! You took it the wrong way...

donutshopguy

Morning,

Don't want to have a fire but I have taken the necessary steps to cover that situation. It's call insurance.

I believe Comrade was very specific. I quoted his exact words. Please explain how I misinterpreted his comments.

Fear mongering by the fire department is very sad.

Comrade Boose

I will now quote you simpleton, you have taken the necessary steps correct?
1. Do you own a set of jaws to cut yourself out if you wreck your car?
2. Do you own a defibrillator to start your heart if it stops?
3. Do you own an SCBA in case tour house catches fire and you need to get out?
If you answered yes to all of these keep spreading tour lies because you are protected.
Since I answer NO to all off them I will take the necessary precautions and keep supporting the police and fire.

Comrade Boose

I will now quote you simpleton, you have taken the necessary steps correct?
1. Do you own a set of jaws to cut yourself out if you wreck your car?
2. Do you own a defibrillator to start your heart if it stops?
3. Do you own an SCBA in case tour house catches fire and you need to get out?
If you answered yes to all of these keep spreading tour lies because you are protected.
Since I answer NO to all off them I will take the necessary precautions and keep supporting the police and fire.

donutshopguy

What's up with the name calling by the "unlimited funds for firefighters" brotherhood?

Where did I say I was against firefighters and police? Why don't you start the process of putting up a levy to support your friends? See how that goes. But no, you would rather downgrade the citizens who could support your levy. Not smart. Sorry, but I have different ideas on needs and funding. Unless things have changed in the last few hours I still have that right.

Comrade Boose

Simpleton no one is putting you down just stating a FACT. You are always contradicting yourself.
Face it you are against police and fire and unions admit it already. Better yet show up Monday and spew your nonsense.

Smoke

How many house and building fire calls do you run in a year?How many people did you carry out of burning buildings last year?

KURTje

Safety? Self-reliance? Logic? Naw...this America now.

DGMutley

Excerpt from Ryan Brotherton's letter above:

"Our elected officials are looking to take about $800,000 away from the fire department including the elimination of 4 full-time positions; eliminating $42,600 from the overtime budget; eliminating $41,799 in cost from yearly required medical exams; and an additional $250,000 from the fire department's EMS fund on top of the $150,000 the city takes from the fund each year."

Talk about jaw-dropping!