By Dan Klepal
Enquirer staff writer
A proposal to "brown out" up to six Cincinnati Fire Department stations per day to cover part of a projected $2.4 million budget shortfall is being criticized by the firefighters' union.
The plan calls for closing stations for 24-hour periods on a rotating basis throughout the city.
Union spokesman Doug Stern said the plan, delivered by Cincinnati Fire Chief Robert Wright to the city manager's office Aug. 20, would be dangerous because it could slow down responses to emergencies.
"We are against any service reduction to the people of Cincinnati because it will put people at risk," Stern said. "It would create a situation where companies are covering the runs for the browned-out stations, and that will create a domino effect all over the city.
"Quick response is what saves lives," he said.
Chief Wright was unavailable for comment Saturday, but his memo said the temporary closures would save $1.6 million.
Stern said his union plans to work with the city manager's office to find other money-saving moves that would allow the city to close the budget gap and keep open all 26 fire stations. Stern also said there's another reason for concern over the proposal.
"In the past, browning out companies has been the first step to closing them for good," Stern said.
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