Firefighter jobs safe for two additional months


Jake Miille

The 15 employed through the SAFER grant will continue to work for an additional 2 months. Photo credit: Bill hack

Newly-employed firefighters approach a hazy future as grant money runs out.

The $5.3 million SAFER grant employed 15 firefighters in 2014, but as money runs low the Fire Department must decide if staff has to be cut. Options were presented to City Council on Nov. 1, which included:

-Option 1: Adding no additional funding (reducing minimal daily staffing from 17 to 13)

-Option 2: Return to pre-SAFER staffing (16)

-Option 3: Set aside existing budget policies in order to consider a mix of the following: a) Take no action until the Fire Stands of Response Coverage study is complete. b) Temporarily sustain staffing: Appropriate $840,000 in one-time funds to extend the current fire department staffing from January 2017 until June 2017.

In light of not receiving an additional grant, the fire department hired an outside consultant to conduct a standard of response coverage analysis. The results of the study will be made available in December, disallowing council members to have all information necessary to carry out a bold decision.

“The motion is we keep funding the fire department at the option 3 level for two months from January to March with a one-time bond,” said councilperson Tammi Ritter.

The verdict was reached: Until the fire department provides a full data analysis from the third party consultant, budget policies will be set aside to continue staffing the minimum of 17 firefighters for two additional months.

It’s a small win for the department, which will continue to employ its 65 active firefighters.

Katia Berg can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter