Posts Tagged fire department staffing

Mundelein Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

In 2017, the Mundelein Fire Department paid out over $800,000 in overtime wages, more than double the department’s overtime costs in 2014. When compared to other nearby Lake County fire departments and districts, Mundelein incurs significantly more overtime costs. Village officials are debating staffing structures at the fire department.

The village board on Feb. 26 voted 4-1 to reduce the number of lieutenant positions and plans to hire more firefighters. Budget workshops for the 2018-19 fiscal year will be held throughout April. During the meeting, the mayor showed the union’s eventual counter proposal that asked for across the board pay bumps and temporary pay hikes when firefighters fill in for lieutenants. 

Mundelein Professional Fire Fighters Local 4786 is challenging the plan to reduce the number of lieutenants. Union officers argue that the reduction creates safety issues. They said Mundelein’s planned staffing change doesn’t create more first responders firefighters, it simply rearranges the roles.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, reviews of the total amount of overtime paid out by the Mundelein Fire Department show $801,828 paid in overtime during 2017, $623,315 in 2016, $573,037 in 2015 and $354,508 in 2014.

Individually, two lieutenants earned more than $74,000 in overtime during 2017, two others earned more than $60,000, and the remaining two lieutenants earned more than $50,000. In contrast, one lieutenant earned $45,000 in overtime during 2014, while the rest earned $21,000 or less. Annual base pay for lieutenants ranges between $98,000 and $114,000, while Mundelein also contributes $25,753 per year to each employees’ pension and around $22,770 per year to each employees’ health insurance plan.

As for firefighter/paramedics, base pay ranges from $69,895 to $95,414 with similar pension and insurance contributions. Data shows firefighters with the most overtime in 2017 earned payouts of $62,000, $53,000, $46,000, $39,000, $33,000, and several in the $20,000 range. Firefighter overtime data from 2014 shows the top earner that year at $37,000, three in the $20,000 range, and the rest took home less.

Pioneer Press compared Mundelein’s base pay and overtime spending with that of the Countryside Fire Protection District, Grayslake Fire Protection District, Gurnee Fire Department, Highland Park Fire Department, and Libertyville Fire Department. All five agencies are responsible for roughly 30,000 residents, but each has its own distinct geography and response needs that prevent exact comparisons.

Mundelein’s fire department responded to 3,255 calls in 2017. The fire department has 33 employees which includes a receptionist who doesn’t respond to incidents. Officials officials said the change in staffing will result in one lieutenant per shift for a total of three, while a fourth lieutenant would do administrative work during the day and be available to substitute during vacations or when injuries occur. Currently, one lieutenant is at each of Mundelein’s two stations on every shift.

Organizational charts at the other six agencies reviewed shows a chief, at least one deputy chief, and each fire station staffing at least one lieutenant. Most of them show inspectors and public education officers who are also certified firefighters.

Libertyville has three stations that cover a downtown, industrial park, suburban neighborhoods, and unincorporated rural areas. They responded to 4,278 calls in 2016 and have 42 certified firefighters. They spent $312,700 in overtime in the 2016-17 fiscal year, $267,758 in 2015-16 and $235,277 in 2014-15. The top overtime earning employee in 2016-17 was given nearly $26,000. Another employee earned $18,000, while a few others were near $16,000. Most earned around $10,000 or less in overtime.

The Countryside Fire Protection District has two stations with 44 full-time and 35 part-time personnel. They cover the Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, two business parks, suburban subdivisions, and more rural or spacious residential properties in unincorporated areas and the villages of Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods. Countryside responds to an average of 4,100 calls per year. They spent $334,394 in overtime during calendar year 2017, $288,764 in 2016, $376,238 in 2015 and $309,586 in 2014. The district has an insurance policy that repays portions of overtime funds spent on injuries. Countryside’s top overtime earner in 2017 received nearly $23,000, while others were at $22,000, $17,000, $16,000, and the rest at or below $11,000.

The Grayslake Fire Protection District has three stations that cover Grayslake, Wildwood, Gages Lake, Third Lake, portions of the Round Lake communities, and Fremont Township. They responded to 3,996 calls in 2016 and have 41 full-time and 30 part-time personnel. Grayslake spent $275,747 in overtime during 2017, $324,533 in 2016, $235,496 in 2015, and $213,596 in 2014. The district did not respond to requests for individual employees’ overtime earnings.

Highland Park has three stations with 48 personnel. They responded to 5,146 calls in 2016 and they are contracted by the city of Highwood. They spent $281,743 in overtime during 2017, $220,426 in 2016, $267,022 in 2015, and $274,065 in 2014. Leading overtime earners included one person at approximately $17,000, two at around $15,000, two at $14,000, one at $13,000, one at $12,000, two at 10,000, and the rest at or below $6,000.

Gurnee’s fire department is responsible for an area of about 30,000 residents which includes Six Flags Great America and Gurnee Mills. They are under contract to cover other districts and municipalities. Its 6,220 calls in 2016 makes the response number much higher than Mundelein. However Gurnee only spent $126,922 in overtime during 2017, $129,054 in 2016, and $164,656 in 2015.

Mundelein’s finance committee is scheduled for fiscal year 2018-19 budget workshops on April 2 and April 9, in which fire department staffing will be among the topics. A vote to formally adopt a budget is scheduled for April 23.

thanks Dan

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Champaign Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

A $1.3 million Department of Homeland Security grant, awarded to the fire department last year, was formally enacted this week to hire six new firefighters.

The grant, called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, will last for two years. City staff and the city council are now looking into their options for when the grant expires.

“We’re going to study this for two years to come up with a continuity plan,” said Fire Chief Gary Ludwig. “We want to figure out how we (keep the six firefighters) in the future without reducing city services.”

A proposition for the study, also being called a stainability plan, will have its first appearance at next Tuesday’s city council meeting. Ludwig said he’s not opposed to re-applying for the grant after it ends but he’s unsure if it will be made available again.

Champaign Budget Officer Molly Talkington said the study’s goal will be to “maintain the increased staffing level for Ladder 164 on a recurring basis after the grant expires.” Ladder 164 is located at fire station four on W. John street.

The increased staffing level at hand is 28 firefighters instead of 27. Whenever the station is short-staffed, which Ludwig said happens almost daily, firefighters are called back on mandatory overtime.

Over the past several years, that overtime has cost the department an additional $300,000 at minimum.

“Three years of data reflects that 3.25 – 4.00 firefighters are off each day for leave other than vacation or Kelly Days,” according to the report.

“A Kelly day is when each firefighter is given an average of 8.7 days off per fiscal year to compensate for working a 56-hour work week when a firefighter’s normal work week is 52 hours.”

In addition, Ladder 164 is currently staffed with two firefighters, which the report says causes safety concerns because the ladder can’t be fully operational.

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Barrington village and fire district disagree on staffing

The Daily Herald has another article about to the Barrington Fire Department. This time, the article points to a disagreement between the village and the fire district over staffing.

The village of Barrington has denied a request by the Barrington Fire Protection District for the hiring of seven additional firefighter/paramedics to help serve the district’s larger area surrounding the village.

So fire district trustees Monday came up with a backup suggestion that the village move one person per shift from the fire station in Barrington to the one in Barrington Hills.

“Maybe if the village had one fewer person here (in Barrington), they might see our issue more clearly,” fire district Trustee Tom Long said.

The fire protection district is a separate taxing body serving a 46-square-mile area outside of Barrington. But the district has historically contracted the services of the Barrington Fire Department — inflated to serve the larger area.

The village has recently begun pursuing ideas to find cost savings in its fire protection services, so the fire district’s request could hardly have come at a worse time.

The article goes on to mention a study by the Illinois Fire Chief’s Association which recommends the additional personnel. The entire article can be found HERE

Previous posts about issues concerning the Barrington Fire Department can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Orland Fire Protection District news

Martin Nowak found an article in the SouthtownStar about the Orland FPD. Excerpts include:

Orland Fire Protection District Board president Jim Hickey says the district’s preliminary 2011-12 budget won’t call for any layoffs or pay cuts for employees.

Board member Marty McGill, called it a “good, sound budget” but expressed displeasure that it would only allow hiring of three firefighters instead of 10.

The full article can be found HERE.

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Article questions CFD staffing levels

Denis McGuire, Jr. found an article in the Chicago News Cooperative questioning the city’s policy of allowing the fire department to maintain current staffing levels which place companies of five per rig. Citing surveys of other large cities and the manner in which each runs their own fire department, the article sites a trend that lowers staffing to four. The article takes into consideration that fire deaths in Chicago have plummeted but counters with the overall reduction in fires. Below are excerpts from the article:

During the year that Robert Hoff became a Chicago firefighter, in 1976, 156 people died in fires in the city. By 2010, when Hoff became the department’s commissioner, that figure had plummeted to 27.

The number of fires that the department was called to put out also dropped dramatically in recent decades. What has hardly changed is the staffing level of the Chicago Fire Department, even as mayors from New York to Los Angeles are trying to combat the recession with reductions in fire protection spending.

The Chicago News Cooperative’s survey of the country’s 10 largest cities found that Chicago ranks near the top in the resources devoted to its fire department. With one firefighter for every 637 residents, Chicago has more firefighters per capita than every large United States city except for Houston, the CNC’s analysis found. And, taking into account its coverage area of about 230 square miles and more than 90 firehouses, Chicago’s department ranked third among the 10 largest cities in the density of firehouses, behind only New York and Philadelphia. (See the complete rankings)

“The decline in fire deaths and fires over the years is not reason to think about cutting back the number of firefighters or firehouses,” the fire department spokesman, Larry Langford, said in a statement this week.

Langford, the department spokesman, said the lower fire death rate is due in part to the department having “enough manpower to conduct searches while simultaneously” fighting fires and keeping flames from spreading to other buildings.

The decline in the number of fire deaths in Chicago was part of a national trend attributed to a variety of factors, including sprinkler systems, fire alarms and smoke detectors. City statistics for structure fires show a drop from almost 5,700 in 1996 to less than 2,500 in 2008.

But the number of medical calls to the fire department increased at the same time that the number of fires dropped, Langford noted.

Langford said Chicago needs larger crews because it has many apartment buildings as well as multi-story public schools and nursing homes. Even in largely residential areas of the city’s bungalow belt, Langford said, homes “are often very close together,” requiring more firefighters than the minimum standard.

He pointed to studies showing that four-person crews were only 65 percent as efficient as having five firefighters in a team. “That translates into minutes saved, which is lives and property saved,” Langford said.

The complete article and supporting data can be found HERE.

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