Perrysburg staffing cuts to fire dept. criticized PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 09:42
PERRYSBURG - The local fire union is trying to sound the alarm over a staffing reduction its leader says unnecessarily puts people at risk.
Heads of the fire department and the union disagree over the ongoing staffing reduction, which was instituted in March to lower overtime costs.
Fire Chief Jeff Klein maintains that the minimum shift reduction from five firefighters to four is being done safely and that the department is still quickly providing quality service.
Pete Scarborough, union president and a firefighter/paramedic with the department, said the move is an unnecessary risk, and that people in Perrysburg should "get the service they pay for."
Overtime pay has been a past topic of discussion by city council and its committees. The staffing reduction has also been done for periods of time in previous years.
While four is the minimum, Klein said there are often as many as seven firefighters working, and concerns over not having enough manpower are eased by immediately calling in available firefighters upon any report of a structure fire, as well as an automatic aid agreement that brings in Perrysburg Township to help. Also, on Monday Rossford City Council approved a mutual aid agreement for structure fires with Perrysburg.
Klein said the reduction has been effective in reducing overtime in the department and has led to no problems. 
"Just because something bad doesn't happen, that doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do," Scarborough replied. He said public outcry would be stronger if there was a staffing reduction in trash or snow service.
"If you tried the same maneuver with something people use everyday, people would be screaming. But because we're doing this to something nobody notices until they need it," they don't see the problem, he said.
"Their safety is being jeopardized, and most people aren't even aware of it."
Scarborough said citizens should be more concerned about staffing during medical runs than fires, because if the department was called to more than one heart attack at once, it could leave them with only a pair of responders for each incident, below the four people to administer CPR as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Klein rebutted a claim by the union that the reduction two weeks ago caused a 15-minute wait for a response to a crash near Way Public Library, not two blocks from the fire station. He said that crews were called to a prior smoke alarm which requires all units to respond, so dispatchers called Perrysburg Township for backup.
"I understand the frustration, but the system worked as it intended. That's why we have mutual aid. There's no department I know of out there that that doesn't happen to," Klein said.


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 08:54

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