Posts Tagged firefighter layoffs

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the dailynorthwestern.com:

Evanston Fire Station 4 will remain open following the approval of the city’s 2019 operating budget, ensuring service levels and response times will be maintained at the current standard. Aldermen voted 6-3 to approve the city’s 2019 operating budget at a Nov. 19 council meeting, granting the city more than $319 million for the next year. The budget, which seeks to fill a projected $7.4 million deficit, was released at the beginning of October and includes a number of expense reductions and revenue increases.

The closure of the station was included in the city’s first draft of its budget which estimated a $1.2 million cut to EFD. The cut would have eliminated nine staff positions, the proposed station closure and the resulting elimination of its fire engine. Station 4 — located at 1817 Washington St. — is in the 2nd Ward and services the southwest region of Evanston.

Now, the department will hold some vacancies open and cut parts of its community engagement programming for the next fiscal year.

During a Nov. 5 council meeting, aldermen overwhelmingly opposed the possible station closure, referring to increased response times and also pointing out the fact that many residents rely on firefighters for medical care.

EFD’s call volume has increased by 51 percent over the past 35 years, and is expected to increase by 2 percent per year moving forward.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the chicagotribune.com:

Evanston aldermen signaled on Monday that they will not approve a proposal to eliminate nine firefighter positions and close and sell one of the city’s five fire stations in an effort to balance the 2019 budget. Aldermen said they see the importance of not reducing the fire department.

However, they did ask Fire Chief Brian Scott to think long-term about how the department could reduce costs, as city coffers are not expected to increase significantly anytime soon. The fire department expenses make up 22 percent of the Evanston budget’s general fund.

The fire department responded to 90 fires in 2017. About 65 percent of calls for service required a paramedic response. Almost all of Evanston’s firefighters are trained as paramedics, and all fire engines are ALS equipped. About 45 percent of calls occurred at the same time as another call in town, so engines regularly shuffle around the city to make sure all neighborhoods are covered in case of an emergency.

Since the early 1980s, “the department has lost staffing by 10 percent, call volume continues to increase and firefighters are asked to do more and more with the same amount of resources or even less,” Scott said.

Many of the calls for medical help come from repeat patients who don’t have insurance and depend on paramedics for care. The department is working with Presence St. Francis Hospital in Evanston to identify those people and get them into programs that could help them. Ideally that would ease the demand on the department and save taxpayers money.

The city council discussion comes as Evanston expects to face a $7.4 million deficit in the proposed $110 million spending plan for 2019. The anticipated shortfall comes from a $4.9 million shortage in the general fund, $1 million for bond payments for construction of the new Robert Crown Community Center and $1.5 million needed in the reserve fund, according to the budget proposal.

The reserve fund, which ideally should have 16.6 percent of the city’s annual operating expenses, ended 2017 at 12.8 percent. Aldermen are expected to vote on the 2019 budget later this month. The city’s new fiscal and budget year starts Jan. 1.

Tags: , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the evanstonroundtable.com:

In his proposed 2019 City budget, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz would close Fire Station 4, 1817 Washington St. Not only is this station Evanston’s smallest station, it is the only one serving the southwest side of the city. Closing the station would entail laying off one firefighter/paramedic and re-assigning the other firefighters/paramedics to other stations.

He said in a press briefing on Oct. 4 he felt closing the station was justified because it is the smallest one and other fire stations could cover the calls and since there is no ambulance at that station, the overall impact of the service cuts would be less than if another station were closed.

The fire chief and the firefighters union, Local 742, apparently could not disagree more. Closing a fire station would increase response times, thereby increasing both the risk of injury and death to victims and firefighters and the likelihood of property damage.

Fire Chief Brian Scott said he holds the safety of the community as his highest priority and although he understands the need for a rigorous review of all city departments in a budgetary squeeze, he is opposed to cutting any safety services to Evanston residents.

Closing Station 4 would increase the response times not only to the homes and businesses in southwest Evanston by more than 50% but would also generally increase times to structures in other parts of the city, if a call came to a station where the units were deployed elsewhere.

There are five fire stations in Evanston’s eight square miles: two on Central Street, one on Emerson Street, one on Madison Street and one on Washington Street.  All five stations are equipped with an engine company; two also have truck companies, and two have ambulances. All units are equipped with advanced life-safety equipment and the firefighters are also trained paramedics.

As the busiest fire department on the North Shore, the Evanston handles more than 10,000 calls each year – about 45% of which are concurrent with other calls. Judging by the past few years, Chief Scott expects that number will increase by about 2% each year.

Effective Oct. 1, the Evanston Fire Department has a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) for fire protection services. The ranking puts Evanston in the top 1% of the more than 47,000 fire departments across the nation ISO has evaluated.

Evanston’s mix of single-family homes, commercial structures and high-rises pose a mix of hazards, according to NFPA 1710 – low for single-family homes, medium for commercial structures and high for high-rises. The minimum daily staffing for low-hazard structures is 15, 28 for medium-hazards, and 43 for high-hazard.

The average response time for the Evanston Fire Department is three minutes, 15 seconds – 45 critical seconds below the four-minute response time of the NFPA 1710.

Response time is critical in both fire and life-safety emergencies. Many home and commercial furnishings are petro-chemically based, so they are more combustible and burn hotter than flammable materials in the past. At a certain point – generally in eight to 10 minutes – a fire will flashover. It is vital that firefighters apply water before flashover to save lives and minimize property damage.

Because all Evanston fire trucks are equipped with advanced life-safety equipment and cross-trained paramedics, the fact that there is no ambulance at Fire Station 4 does not necessarily mean that residents and businesses in the area are short-changed in medical emergencies. Dispatched to a 911 EMS call, firefighters can begin life-saving procedures while an ambulance is on its way. 

Although Southwest Evanston is near both the Chicago and Skokie borders, it is not reasonable to rely on firefighters in either of those communities to respond immediately to an emergency in Evanston. Fire companies in neighboring communities can help in a multi-alarm fire, but each department is responsible first to the residents of its own community.

Firefighters and the chief are holding firm against the closing of Fire Station 4. Many residents here are similarly opposed to closing the station and cutting services.

Tags: , , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the dailynorthwestern.com:

A $1.2 million cut to the Evanston Fire Department in the city’s proposed 2019 budget would mean eliminating nine positions and shutting down Station 4, which has led to pushback from current and former EFD personnel as well as city residents. The suggested reduction is the largest for any city department and follows a 2018 budget cut of $288,762 for EFD.

Station 4 — located at 1817 Washington St. — is in the 2nd Ward and services the southwest region of Evanston. The city manager said if city council approves the proposed budget in November, the building that houses Station 4 will be sold and nearby stations will take over for the area.

However, in an email to The Daily, Evanston Fire Local 742 union executive board members Ryan Roeder and Billy Lynch said recklessly closing Station 4 would compromise the safety that Evanston residents deserve by causing delays in service. They said the city’s five fire stations are strategically situated to respond to emergencies.

According to EFD’s 2017 Annual Report, the department responded to just over 10,000 emergency calls last year. Former EFD Chief Greg Klaiber wrote in an Oct. 7 Facebook post that 1,173 of those calls were located in the neighborhood serviced by Station 4, which is typically staffed by one captain, two firefighter/paramedics, and one fire engine.

Evanston and Northwestern are serviced by only two ambulances and seven firefighter/paramedic-staffed vehicles — five engines and two trucks. According to the proposed budget, after Station 4 is shut down, its fire engine will also be removed from service. According to Klaiber, engines located at Madison Street and Emerson Street would have to cover the area, resulting in increased response times.

Roeder and Lynch’s joint statement echoed Klaiber’s post, calling the proposed closure particularly concerning because of the already limited resources that EFD has. On top of that, they said the number of EMS calls has more than doubled in recent decades, though there has been no increase in the number of responding personnel. The proposed budget’s decrease of nine EFD positions — one layoff of an active firefighter/paramedic and the elimination of eight vacant spots — would only increase the strain,.

The city will hold a public hearing about the budget on Oct. 27, and each ward will be hosting informal budget review sessions through Oct. 24. Residents can also use the city website to comment on the proposal before the final vote in November.

Tags: , , , ,

Evanston Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from evanstonnow.com:

Former Evanston fire chief Greg Klaiber is sharply criticizing plans to close one of the city’s five fire stations as part of broader cuts to balance the city’s 2019 budget

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Klaiber says he can’t support elimination of nearly 10 percent of the city’s firefighter/paramedic positions.

Klaiber, who since his retirement from the city has worked as director of emergency management at Northwestern University, says that last year about 11 percent of the calls for service in the city came from within Station 4’s protection district.

Facebook post from Greg Klaiber about closing of Evanston fire station

Tags: , , , ,

Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from the Chicago Suntimes.com, from the Better Government Association:

Facing a budget deficit next year of nearly $8 million, the village of Matteson is considering sharp cuts in its public safety work force, with possible layoffs of 13 police officers and eight firefighters — about 40 percent of the police department and a third of the fire department.

Officials in the south suburb say they’re trying to get their finances in order after years of declining tax revenues. But Matteson leaders haven’t been so diligent in recent years regarding village finances. Consider:

• In January — around the same time officials floated the possibility of the public-safety cuts — the village hired John Dancy, Village Trustee Bridget Dancy’s husband, for a $43,900-a-year public works job. Bridget Dancy, who makes $158,500 a year working for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, says she had “absolutely nothing” to do with her husband getting the job. And she said, “if there’s going to be layoffs it’s going to be across the board.”

Two other Matteson trustees — Sam Brown and Paula Farr — also have family members on the village payroll. Brown, who has a job with the Cook County Board of Review making $62,375 a year, has a son making $36,235 working for the Matteson recreation department. Farr’s husband and son work in the public works department, where they make $62,910 and $50,997.

• In June, Matteson officials leased a 2014 Chevrolet Traverse sport-utility vehicle for Village President Andre Ashmore, despite the tough financial straits and even though his job is part-time and there is a full-time administrator overseeing the suburban government’s day-to-day operations. The vehicle is projected to cost taxpayers more than $21,000 over the span of its 39-month lease, records show.

Ashmore — who recently left his $110,000-a-year state government job with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — says other village employees can use his vehicle “any time there’s an emergency.”

• In 2010, shortly after Matteson laid off about 20 employees, the elected village board voted to give itself raises. Pay for village trustees went up from $8,000 a year to $15,000, while the village president’s salary nearly doubled, rising from $15,500 a year to $30,000. At the time, Ashmore argued there hadn’t been a raise in years and the elected officials’ pay amounts to just a pittance considering the number of hours they put in, saying, “It doesn’t add up to minimum wage.”

Still, the salaries appear high compared with other suburbs. In Park Forest, for example, the mayor gets $7,550, and board members get $5,100. In Oak Park, village board members get roughly $7,200 a year, and the village president gets about $10,800. In River Forest, the village president and board members don’t receive any compensation.

Matteson — a predominantly black, largely middle-class community, population about 19,000, located on the border of Cook and Will counties — is in talks with the unions representing police and fire department employees about salary concessions. Village officials say they also might make other cuts.

A key factor in Matteson’s financial troubles is the looming tab for bond payments starting in 2017 for a community center that voters twice rejected in advisory referendums. Village officials built it anyway, going into debt on the $25 million facility that opened in 2010.

Village officials say the community center is making money, that it keeps kids off the streets and boosts tax revenues by bringing people in from outside Matteson for events such as basketball tournaments.

Scott Gilliam, a Matteson firefighter who’s president of the fire union, sees it as a prime reason there’s talk of layoffs.

“They’re just foolish with the money,” Gilliam says. “The community center is the reason for them jeopardizing public safety. They mortgaged the safety of the community for a community center.”

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , ,

Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from ABC7chicago.com:

A town meeting in south suburban Matteson was packed with people upset over a plan that would mean deep cuts to the police and fire departments.

Matteson is faced with an $8 million budget deficit. The village board meeting was standing-room only Wednesday night, as leaders discussed laying off 13 police officers – nearly half the force – and eight firefighters. They are also considering leaving four positions in the fire department vacant.

The cuts could take place as soon as next week. Matteson residents are worried about the impact on public safety.

“It’s detrimental, I think, to the community at large. We’re talking increased response times, less personnel at the scene of a fire,” said Scott Gilliam, president of the Matteson firefighters union.

Village officials and the police and fire unions plan to begin talks over the proposed layoffs.

thanks Dan

Previous posts are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Tags: , , , ,

Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from a Southtown Star article on the possible layoffs coming to Matteson:

The police and firefighter unions in Matteson officially have responded to the village administration’s request to negotiate over recently announced plans to lay off half of the police force and a quarter of the firefighter-paramedics by Feb. 20.

The unions’ contracts with the village give them the “ability for critical input,” village administrator Brian Mitchell said last week in citing Matteson’s $8 million budget deficit as the reason for the proposed layoffs. He said the village plans to save $1.5 million by laying off 13 police officers and $1.2 million by laying off eight firefighter-paramedics.

Ray Violetto, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police representative for the Matteson officers, said the union responded to the village Friday, while Scott Gilliam, president of the Associated Firefighters of Matteson, said it responded Monday. Gilliam said the firefighters’ union wants more information about the village’s financial situation in advance of any meeting. Violetto said he wasn’t authorized to elaborate on his union’s strategy but hoped village officials would get back to the unions soon on the next steps.

The village’s Tuesday deadline for the unions to respond followed Monday night’s village board meeting where many in a large crowd questioned the need for the layoffs and urged trustees to find areas of the budget other than public safety to make cuts. The planned layoffs were not on the meeting agenda.

… a major unanswered question is “why are firefighters and police the first to be cut?” No one in the administration has explained what other cutbacks, if any, are planned.

Gilliam and Violetto said the public works department hired Trustee Bridget Dancy’s husband two weeks ago. A call seeking comment from that department was directed back to Mitchell’s office.

Gilliam said he didn’t understand the village’s logic in cutting its first responders because it “goes against common sense.”

“If these layoffs take place, there will be a snowball effect,” said Violetto, who has more than 28 years of law enforcement experience. “You’re going to have slower response times and officer fatigue because they’ll be doing a lot more work than they had in the past.”

Village officials sought voter approval Nov. 4 for home-rule authority, which would give them more taxing powers, such as adopting a local sales tax, to raise revenue. They warned that defeat of home rule would force them to make layoffs, including in public safety, but voters rejected the change by a vote of 3,322 to 3,121.

Matteson’s failed attempts in recent years to save Lincoln Mall, which closed this month, and the steadily declining sales tax revenue from the mall, also contributed to the rising budget shortfall.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from myFoxchicago.com on the possibility of police and fire layoffs in Matteson:

In Matteson, residents packed the Village Hall to vent their frustrations.  The Village has warned police they may have to cut 13 officers, or half of its patrol staff. The fire department may have to eliminate eight firefighter paramedics, or about a quarter of its work force.

The layoffs could begin as soon as February 20th as a way to help deal with an $8 million budget shortfall the village of Matteson is facing this year. However, the concern at the meeting is why first responders are the first ones on the chopping block.  The cuts were not on the agenda at Monday’s meeting, but concerned residents joined an overflow crowd including a lot of firefighters and police who demanded cuts be made elsewhere.

The police and fire department unions were notified last week about the layoffs. They were the first departments put on notice. “Any further reductions could potentially do more harm than good. No layoffs are acceptable, none,” said Police Union President Robert Wilson. “For the first line of cuts to be fire and police goes against common sense,” said Firefighters Union President Scott Gilliam.

The village administrator said for police and fire to avoid layoffs, there will have to be salary negotiations. Residents were particularly concerned that the layoffs could cause police and fire response times to skyrocket, putting their safety in real danger.

Residents told the village board they should cut administration salaries first, and the Board President assured people that the entire budget was under review.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , ,

Layoffs may come to Matteson

Excerpts from an ACB7Chicago.com article about the Village of Matteson:

The police union reports that 13 police officers and 8 firefighters could be cut by mid-February.

“I don’t want to say it’s a chopping block because we look at the life of these firefighters, police officers, their families, it’s very critical to them for their jobs. It’s also critical for our residents to know that safety is there when they call, that when they call 911, that they know someone is going to be responding,” said Brian Mitchell, Matteson village administrator.

The police union had this response, in part: “The union is disheartened regarding this drastic step as it directly impacts the safety of the residents, members of the business community and officers on the street.” The village administrator says those unions do have a chance to respond to the letter by Tuesday.

Residents can speak out at a board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Excerpts from the SouthtownStar.com from Friday:

An $8 million budget deficit in Matteson has led village officials to impose layoffs of police and firefighters, village administrator Brian Mitchell said Friday. The village intends to eliminate eight firefighters/paramedic positions to save $1.5 million and remove 13 police officers to save $1.2 million. Mitchell said the proposed layoffs were mindful of the need for safety in the community, stressing that the “goal is to make sure the community is still safe and secure.”

The layoffs would cut about half of the town’s 28-person police patrol, said Ray Violetto, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police representative for the Matteson officers. Violetto said he understands that the village has a deficit but it doesn’t make sense that firefighters and police officers are the only ones losing their jobs. “I’ve only seen cuts in emergency response personnel, but I don’t know of cuts in public works, administration or other departments,” he said.

The fire department would lose a quarter of its 32 union members, according to Scott Gilliam, president of the Associated Firefighters of Matteson. Gilliam insisted that Matteson “cannot possibly operate” with eight fewer firefighters, which would create a “severe threat to the safety and lives of both the firefighters and the citizens of this community.” “There’s no way we can operate below what we’re doing now,” he said, noting that the firefighters’ contract with the village requires a minimum of eight firefighters to be on duty per day.  Forcing the remaining firefighters to maintain that daily minimum would require them to work “a lot of overtime” past their 60-hour work week, putting everyone’s health and safety at risk, Gilliam said.

The village administration sent letters to the police and fire unions, informing them of and asking for a response by Tuesday, Mitchell said, citing collective bargaining agreements that give the unions the “ability for critical input.”

Mitchell said several residents have called the village hall, asking to discuss the layoff issue at the meeting. He said the layoffs are not on the agenda because the village administration first wants to get the unions’ official response to the plan, but residents can comment and ask questions as usual.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , , ,