Friday, September 17, 2004

Fire union lists ways to save

But city says that's not enough;
'brownouts' still needed

By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati's fire union hopes to stop the city's plan to save money by not staffing some fire companies each day.

Union president Joe Diebold said Thursday he doesn't understand why city officials rejected the union's money-saving proposals in favor of "browning out,'' or reducing staffing, by up to six fire companies every day through the end of the year.

Each day the department staffs 40 fire companies within 26 firehouses.

Diebold called the city's plan "knee-jerk'' and "Draconian.''

"Brownouts are going to affect the most lower-income areas of our city,'' he said. "Council members know we offered them other options.''

The union suggested canceling an internal audit of the department, the cost of which has been estimated at up to $500,000; billing for emergency medical runs at the maximum allowed by Medicare; and increasing billing for mileage on medical transports, which the union said would generate $648,000 a year.

The union agreed with Fire Chief Robert Wright's other cost-saving measures, including selling the department's spare-parts inventory and handling all inspections for special events with on-duty personnel, to avoid paying overtime.

City spokeswoman Meg Olberding said the union's suggested cuts were good ones.

They'll be considered for the future, she said, but they wouldn't have saved enough money quickly enough. Wright's proposals will save an estimated $2.4 million, officials say.

The plan will be discussed Tuesday at City Council's finance committee.

No firehouses will be left completely dark under the plan. Brownouts will happen only in fire stations that house more than one company, such as an engine company and a ladder truck, and only one of those companies would be decommissioned at a time.


Minor parties, major ambition
Edwards attacks Bush's record on economy, Iraq

Feds tighten airport screening
Islet cell transplants on hold
Cincinnati cops nearly done with CPR update
Locals lend hand to victims of storms
Senators hear doctors' complaints about costs
Relative takes up fight for justice
Fire union lists ways to save
Group disputes petition validity
Driver who killed woman sentenced to three years
Ex-cop faces trial in wife's '95 death
Once again, teens mourn loss of peer to car wreck
What's recyclable? A lot more items

N.Ky. counts its successes
Gay man cheers arrest in case
Maysville celebrates retaining newspaper
Kentucky news briefs
Kentucky obituaries

School music makes comeback
1-day walkout may be voted
Fairfield faces academic cuts if levy fails again
Shell asked to help district

Neighborhood briefs

Downs: Don't make P. Diddy beg; vote, you kids
Good Things Happening

Gordon Brisker, musician and master teacher

City embraces jam-packed Fusion
Wanna party? Sports, music, Oktoberfest await
Best places to eat
What's new downtown, on riverfront
Big events fill the weekend
Downtown event map (PDF)
More Big Weekend coverage