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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Proposed Budget Cuts

Next Union Meeting is Wednesday April 23rd at 7pm. The Budget Proposal Memo is online at (click here)

Update: There will be a story on WSLS Channel 10 at 5, 5:30, or 6pm tonight April 23rd. There will also be a story on Channel 7 at the same time.

The meeting on May 1st will be at 7pm in Council Chambers. The meeting is a public hearing on the budget.

Well, the news is out. Chief Hoback has been given the ultimatum to make budget cuts within the Fire Department. The plan he has proposed to Roanoke City Council is the following from what I understand (although I may have misunderstood some of it):
  1. Engine 13 will be taken out of service. -6 FF's, 3 1st Lt.'s, 3 Lt.'s.
  2. Ladder 7 will lose the 4th firefighter minimum and be reduced to three. -3 firefighters
  3. The power medic truck will go to the Northside (most likely 13 or 14). 0 change
  4. A medic truck will be placed into service at Station 8. +6 firefighters
  5. Mary Thompson's position will be terminated. (I believe she will still have job somewhere else in the City). -1 civilian position
  6. We will get a 2% raise in July and possibly another 2% in January.

With this proposal, we will lose 3 1st Lt.'s, 3 Lt.'s, 3 Firefighters and 1 civilian position. However, it was my understanding that we would only lose 7 positions. All I can imagine is that they are only counting losing 9 positions on Engine 13 (minimum staffing) even though we have 12 positions on the apparatus.

This proposal is similar to several years ago when they tried to remove positions on Ladder 1. Much like that time, our response needs to be the same. We need to fill the Council Forum on the budget which will be on May 1st at 7pm.

Another firefighter mentioned the fact that when we merged the Fire Department with the EMS Department in 1995, the departments were 272 and 40 members strong respectively. Now we are down to less than 272 members.

It amazes me to sit here and witness more potential cuts to an already skeleton crew. What amazes me is that the 6 positions we have given the County weren't the first to go, or the new position down in Administration (nothing personal against BC Dave Bishop). If you look at it close, Administration is adding personnel and Operations is losing personnel. That recommendation is only if we really had to cut personnel. Why don't we start with the frivolous spending by Roanoke City Council for starters. Maybe if we hadn't have given away $888,000.00 to millionaires we wouldn't be in this predicament.

To say that the firefighters in Roanoke City are outraged would be an understatement. I have had more than one rookie ask me if they could lose their job. The answer is no.

It is almost like Roanoke is reinventing the wheel. We are using a little bit of the Quint concept and now we are creating the ambulance concept where everything is ambulances.

The sad truth is that someone will pay for all of these cuts we have seen in the past and will see in the future. That someone will more than likely not be a member of Council or a Department head, that person will be a civilian and/or a firefighter trying to save that civilian because we didn't have enough people on scene quick enough to make an effective rescue.

This information and more can be found here on the IAFF website

Each year, more than 100 fire fighters die in the line of duty, and additional tens of thousands are injured. While it will never be possible to eliminate every death, many could be avoided if industry consensus standards for safe fire fighting were followed consistently.

Developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other standards-making bodies, industry consensus standards address a wide range of issues, including requirements for protective equipment, safe staffing and fireground operations, training, fitness and incident command. Developed by all facets of the fire service, government agencies and interested private sector parties, these standards are widely respected as the gold standard for safe fire fighting practices and fire department operations.

To better promote compliance with such standards among local fire departments, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced legislation to study the current extent of such compliance and establish a task force to make recommendations to ensure their broad adoption. The Firefighter Fatality Reduction Act, H.R. 5686 in the House and S. 2887 in the Senate, are currently pending consideration by the Congress.

Fire Fighter Safety Standards

• The failure to follow industry consensus standards puts both the public and fire fighters at risk. An independent analysis conducted by the Boston Globe found that response time to emergencies in fire departments throughout the nation rose significantly over the past two decades due to a failure to abide by industry consensus standards.

• Fire fighter fatality investigations conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health often cite the failure to follow specific consensus standards as contributing factors to a fire fighter’s death. Providing adequate training and proper equipment, establishing safe staffing levels, following safe operating procedures and ensuring the physical and mental health of fire fighters can help reduce fire fighter fatalities.

• Using an open, consensus-based development process, standards-making bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develop fire fighter safety standards in concert with members of the fire service as well as industry and government agencies. As a result, fire fighter safety standards are widely respected throughout the fire service, government and private sector.

• The federal government already places minimum requirements on fire departments through NIMS, OSHA and the EPA, but many of these requirements are outdated and are not fully consistent with modern fire fighting practices, placing fire fighters and the public at risk.

• The federal government relies on local fire departments to properly implement the National Response Framework in response to any large-scale disaster. Fire departments and fire fighters must possess certain minimum capabilities to ensure an efficient and effective response.

• Insurance companies use standards compliance data to price homeowner and commercial property insurance. Widespread standards compliance would result in significantly lower insurance costs for both consumers and businesses.

• Recent surveys by the U.S. Fire Administration have found that a significant percentage of fire departments were unable to effectively respond to many common emergency situations. A more thorough analysis on the status of compliance with consensus standards would assist policy makers in seeking to address these threats to public safety.

• The bill does not require municipalities, fire departments or fire fighters to comply with consensus standards, and would place no cost requirement upon such entities. The bill simply tasks the federal government with collecting data on standards compliance among local fire departments and studying ways to increase such compliance.


Anonymous said...

Rhett, can you post the e-mail for the council members?

Anonymous said...

With gas prices going up every day, grocery prices going up, insurance prices going up and they offer us a 2% raise, WHAT AN INSULT!

That comes out to $12 per week for a new firefighter, and about $21 per week for a 20 year Captain.

Then to add insult to injury, they are now proposing to put my life at risk even more.

Thanks a lot. What a great employer.

I know, I know, someone is going to say "You can leave at any time", but the fact is most of us made a commitment to the City of Roanoke, many years ago and we cannot leave until our homes are paid off and our kids are out of school. We made a commitment to the City, but they are not commited to us.

FireFleitz said...

Which email are you referring to? If I get it I will post it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your salary increase are in line with the private sector. Raises this year were 2% to 2.5%, and benefit cost increase ate up most of that.

The city can be protected with less as most other cities of similar population are!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I'll be at the union meeting tomorrow(wed) night!! 7pm. If you care about this dept. and this city you should come. Hey Chief, enjoy your new Dodge Durango that Burcham got ya. That was Mary's salary.

Anonymous said...

"The city can be protected with less as most other cities of similar population are!"

There are not many other cities around that are running broken pieces of apparatus, deal with a despicable water supply system on a daily basis, try and talk on radios that don't work and have as many square miles to cover.
The men and women of this dept give there heart and soul to the city and attempt to make it a better place to live everyday. All we have are our fellow FF's to depend on anymore because the Council, Chiefs, and Citizens have dismissed our views and needs. All they care about is that the fire calls and ems calls in SORO are answered quickly enough. We must stop letting these special interest groups run our city in order to make it there very own playland. We must get a mayor and council in the office that will bring jobs and manufacturing to the city. If this does not happen soon what is left of the residential tax base will be gone as well and this City is going to look like Detroit.

Anonymous said...

What a crock of shit. This place never ceases to amaze me. This is such a slap in the face to the FF's of Roanoke City. I cant belive that they would cut another NW engine just down the road from Station 12! I hope the citizens come out and raise hell for their compromised protection. This needs to go to the media and Va fire news, Firehouse and the general public before the Council meeting. 2%? Thats 700 bucks if I figure right. 400 after taxes...or 5 tanks of gas! Every time I look at Red's 4 million dollar hole next to city garage, the more I want to plant her dumb ass alive under it. I'll be at the council meeting!! Nows the time gang, lets do what we can.

The Ol Grumpy Guy said...

NOW, not later NOW is the time for all the jab throwing and name calling to go away. NOW is the time to get our Stuff in order with one another and become one UNION. I beg all of you to please come to the meetings and get involved, THIS is your Livelyhood, your family's very wellbeing that is affected. I want someone on the upper end of this admin. to be held accountable for their actions, to see what they are doing to the men and women of this dept. A special note to Grigsby and Burch. and Hoback. How ashamed you should feel for having the power to Affect people and their families the way you have and are planing to do. Ask yourself if anyone will be there for you when the time comes. Jim, you have ruined a city with your Idiology. But you got your pay and benefits. To hell with all of you in Administration and City Management.

The ol Grumpy Guy

Anonymous said...

What if they implemented the Quint concept downtown in Administration? Can you see one of them doing the job of 8?

Anonymous said...

$880,000, 500 some odd businesses not paying they're taxes and someone who is supposed to be collecting those taxes could carer less about doing his job. as a city resident where are my tax dollers going? my real estate tax double this year but its ok some millionaire contracters got $880,000 to build more downtown appartments. not to mention all the other spending the city has done on debating issues instead of just taking action. and now with the budget mine and my family's public saftey are more at risk because its the first thing they want to cut. Roanoke city elections are May 6, and there are all but 2 seats up for election. i encourage everyone who votes in the city to make difference!!

Anonymous said...

How will the removal of E-13 effect the agreement with the County? With only L-13 there I'm sure their volume will be too great to run city calls, county calls and Salem calls. That's ridiculous.

What happens when #5 and #9 become one station (or is that still in the works). Do we lose another engine company?

Anonymous said...

We will continue to loose people until they hit the magic number of stations, trucks, and people. It has been in the plans for years, regardless of the puppet... I mean chief. Big Red has heart burn for the FD and PD and she knows who she can jerk around. Red knows that regardless of how shitty she does us we will continue to do the best damn job we can. Why? Because we love our jobs and do them damn well.

Yes, 5 & 9 are still merging and yes another truck will be lost. Yes, the E13 loss will negatively effect the mutual aid pact with the county. Yes, we will see another LODD in Roanoke City within the next 2 years.

Plan now on who you want to see die needlessly.

Anonymous said...

Why in hell arent we pulling our 6 out of Clearbrook to staff Medic 8? Or does that just make too much sense?

Anonymous said...

We received 4% last year. So, we're getting only half of that this year. 2% multiplied by 20 years is roughly $13,000 plus interest. So we are not losing simply $600 this year. Think about the long term how this (lack of) raise affects us.

This in addition to losing all those positions. Yeah, I can see how much we as employees are valued as the city's best assets. What other assets does it possibly have? Like a previous post stated, its turning into mini-Detroit--a welfare city.

Just curious... Does anyone else ever ponder if they should have accepted their offer from the county?

Get used to it, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Valerie said...

For email addresses contact me from my blog.

Are your meetings closed or can a candidate attend?

There was a Candidate Forum tonight at Crystal Spring Elem. - Neighbors of South Roanoke. There were more candidates there then attendees. Economic development was the discussion. No questions ever come up at any forum about "safety". The "young professionals" are the hot topic this election.

Pardon me for butting in but I am frustrated by the apathy of Roanoke citizens - not taking the time to get to know the candidates - this looks like another 17% of registered voter turnout for May 6th.

Anonymous said...

hey Val. what do you think about Public Saftey and the city railroading the hardworking people of the Roanoke City Fire and Police departments? Do you want to come to one of our meetings so maybe we would support you, Or because you care about the obligation the city gov. has to protect it's people? I think the city gov has forgotten about that obligation. They do not go by the values written and hung in our city fire stations. I think if we as a union could let the people of the city know about the dangers we all face by cutting jobs in both departments, it could have some promise. I don't think the city gov understands how cutting manpower puts the lives of firefighters, cops, and the people we protect in harms way. Cutting trucks will make response times longer, no matter what Admin says. Just look at the trouble cutting Eng 7 has caused. I think if you want to help great, but if you just want a vote, don't bother.

Anonymous said...

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Government is asking for trouble if they cut back in public safety. You want to tighten a belt or two. Start by taking back all the city credit cards handed out. I have to pay for my meal everyday at work, why not department heads? We can jump up and down all we want, but it is the citizens who should be the voice. Most of us do not live in the city, and the politicians know this. Can you blame us? Tell me crime is not bad in the city. Tell me the city school system is a good place to have my child grow up in. And you still cut police out of your budget. I don't care how many art museums or $100.00 a plate cafe's you build, its the citizens who make your city. They need to be the ones raising hell. And we need to inform them, through our voice.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted our local represenatives about our "issues"? We need to get some backers to protect us from this proposal.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted our local represenatives about our "issues"? We need to get some backers to protect us from this proposal.

Valerie said...

Yes, I'd like to help. We have our priorities all screwed up as I told the FOP.

Post here if I can come and you can explain to a layman what's at stake.

The first order of government is to keep the citizens safe - I have said repeatedly and at the Editorial Board that I would have voted a resounding "NO" to that $880K for the Hancock apartments. 17 out of 58 designated as low income just to get it laundered through the RHA.

Anonymous said...

We need to be calling or representatives: Sen. Edwards, Delegate Fralin, Mayor Harris, Coucilman Trinkle & Fitzpatrick. Maybe a call to the news would be beneficial.

Anonymous said...

This is our chance guys and gals. We need to expose this city govt for what it is. We need to be heard!! The Union and the FOP need to get together and bring this information to the public in a manner that will be heard. I cannot sit back any longer and listen about the corruption that goes on in Roanoke everyday. Darlene, if you're reading this...we're gonna raise hell sweetheart. Hope you packed a lunch for this outing :) Your ways look out more for the section 8 folks in this town than the hard working city employees. So let me get this straight, take from the hard working, and give to the system abusers. WTF? Remember, the biggest travesty is for good people to sit back and do nothing!!

Hambone McDougal said...

Im not a glass half empty kind of person but this ball started rolling a long time ago. Everyone seems to be excited about the new 5/9 combo but nobody seems to care that another engine company will be taken out of service when that happens. We can bitch all day, but we as firefighters dont have a say. Our Union is not strong enough for this battle. Chief Hoback, city council, and Darlene know not to be worried about the backlash from the Union because the Union has never stood up to a good fight.
They know we will do our jobs no matter what circumstances stand in our way.
The city has no money due to poor city management and the fire, police, and schools have to pay the price. Shoulda gone to work for Salem!

Anonymous said...

It's about time that we all come together. There are some great comments, and strong opinions. But we need to get together at the union meeting and we need to show up to the city council meeting and pack the house and show them were not going to sit idle while they railroad the firefighters and police officers. Let them tell us how they have cut back on council spending since were in such a crunch. I doubt they have. Now it's test time, are we going to come together or stand aside while Big Red continues to run the city into the ground.

Anonymous said...

I guess if my house burns down I can always go live at the art museum or the ampitheater. This City is an incredible joke and a disgrace. I was shocked to read this post Rhett absolutely shocked. Everyone of those lousy councilmembers needs to be replaced and the City Manager needs to be fired.

Anonymous said...

This was all part of Grigsbys plan from the start. The only thing new is the awful way they did Mary. She’s been here 23 years and deserves better. How about give her a job as secretary at the RTC. How about last in first to go…I like Tiffany but she should go before Mary. Oh but she’s Ralphs daughter. Of course everybody wants Ralph to go. How about the part time secretary for the fire marshalls… how about fire marshall 2? What about Altman… what do these people do anyway except screw with us? When they are off nobody knows except it’s a lot quieter. The folks on the street are the most essential here – not the pencil pushers or bureaucrats – open your eyes. Who is next?
what does the training division do except deligate? put them back in the companies. but of course the second step ,after keeping Mary, is to bring the 6 people back from the county!!!!!Oh no - it's a political thing we can't do that --- idiots

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say I gave our Chief the benefit of the doubt. Since I came to the fire dept., which wasn't that long ago, I've been wishy washy about whether or not to trust our Chief on his word. Well my decision was made up for me last night. I watched the 6pm news on channel 10 and listened to our Chief tell not only the citizens of Roanoke, but also the city firefighters that taking a fourth man off of ladder 7 would not be putting anybody in danger. Well "Chief Goback...on your word", you can kiss my ass you damn liar. I know you never had to go into a burning building and dont give a shit about us. And thats the whole problem, you were never one of "us." You're not a chief, you're a politician in a firefighters costume. That's why people like u, altman, and ralph wont have anyone at your retirement parties. I'll call you when I retire and you can come see what it's like to be a true brother.

Anonymous said...

I thought the budget showed a 17 percent decrease in administration and a 45 percent *increase* in operations?
Is this info just wrong or is there a disconnect between the budget office and fire admin?

Anonymous said...

has the chief who is supposed to live in the city moved into the city yet.
-If not, I recommend he move somewhere in the middle of where 9 used to be, 12 used to be & now 13 (with only 3 peole instead of 6-8) used to be. after a run to his house occurs, then he can tell us if things havent changed.

f u fireman said...

ha, i find it funny that the chiefs and city council think they know whats best for us when they have never ridden a firetruck, went in to a burning building, or stayed up all 24 hours running calls.

Anonymous said...

Ok enough backlashing and pointing fingers..We need to be at city council..Then vent..respectfuuly and carefully...See you there