Firefighters union responds to Hillsboro staffing cuts
The union representing Hillsboro firefighters have responded in a press release- to cuts the mayor announced earlier in the week.
The press release reads as follows:
Monday, the city of Hillsboro and Mayor Drew Hastings announced that additional staffing cuts will be forced upon the Hillsboro Fire Department (HFD). This elimination of fire fighters would force the HFD to have only two fire fighters on duty per day. This action will jeopardize the safety of the citizens of Hillsboro by decimating an effective fire fighting response.
These cuts are in addition to those that Mayor Hastings implemented earlier this year, eliminating all part time and volunteer fire fighters, EMTs and Paramedics. These initial cuts left the HFD with only four fire fighters on duty per day. The latest proposal slashes that bare bones staffing in half. These cuts would take the HFD to pre-1976 staffing levels, a time before emergency medical services that are currently provided to the citizens.
Hillsboro Professional Fire Fighters, Local 2972 feel that this action is in defiance of public safety. It is also direct violation of the city's collective bargaining agreement with our union and Ohio revised code. Cuts of this nature will increase fire fighters response times and decrease their ability to perform basic fire fighting tasks as well as hampering the ability of HFD to adequately provide Emergency Medical Services.
The city has asked for concessions above the cuts of part time and volunteer fire fighters. Local 2972 stepped to the forefront after being asked to give wage and benefit concessions of $100,000 earlier this year to avert the most recently proposed cuts and layoffs. Fire fighters earmarked that number plus an additional 6%. (A total amount of roughly $8000 per fire fighter) They did so according to Local 2972 President David Snider because "we see it as our obligation to protect Hillsboro. If that means we give back to maintain safety, then we give back. We felt like we were working with the Mayor to make a better community."
That offer was summarily ignored by the administration.
"Apparently, our sacrifice was not even entertained by the City," Snider commented. "It really is a shame that Mayor Hastings is not interested in actually resolving the issue. It appears he is more interested in disbanding the fire department than making it work to best protect the citizens. We continue to be open to reasonable and respectful discussions."
Hillsboro passed a 1978 city ordinance to fund the HFD and life squad services with four tenths of one percent (4/10%) income tax. Today that ordinance brings in more than $820,000 along with an additional $279,000 in EMS revenue. The city also previously contracted with surrounding townships resulting in $225,000 in 2011 in addition to $130,000 in EMS revenue. That contract was not renegotiated by the administration in 2012 resulting in lost revenue for the city. The townships that were contracting with HFD are paying other departments more than $1 Million for their services now.