Minneapolis cuts 13 firefighters, unofficially lowers daily staffing

Categories: Minneapolis
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The cuts will informally lower minimum daily staffing from 96 to 93.
The already-diminished Minneapolis Fire Department is about to get even smaller.

Thirteen firefighters found out yesterday morning that they are being cut from the department, effective next month. Three will be forced into retirement, the other ten laid off.

How exactly these cuts will affect the department's service is still to be seen. But many firefighters say that the department has already been cut dangerously low over the years, and fear that more layoffs will inevitably lead to even slower emergency response times and more firefighter injuries.

"It's gonna blow up," says Mark Lakosky, president of the Minneapolis firefighter union. "There is just a bottom line to operate in a successful fire department."

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City officials say they're doing all they can to curb the impact of state budget cuts.
Gripes about low staffing in the Minneapolis fire department are nothing new.

Since Mayor R.T. Rybak took office, the department has seen cuts that firefighters say have changed day-to-day operations, making an already dangerous job even more dangerous. In turn, many firefighters have become skeptical of whether city officials have their best interests in mind.

"It doesn't really feel like the City Council's behind this department," one firefighter told City Pages in an interview last fall. "Every morning we come in here and it feels like we're getting shit on."

But city officials says they're doing the best they can to make ends meet in a tough economy.

This week's layoffs are part of an unstoppable "waterfall" of cuts triggered by the Minnesota Legislature cutting Local Government Aid, says John Stiles, spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak.

"Cities are where the rubber meets the road," says Stiles. "So when the state passes its fiscal problems and unwillingness or inability to balance its budget sustainably, we have to take action. We can't pass that onto anyone else."

And while they can't stop the cuts, Stiles says they're doing all they can to soften the blow. Rybak and the City Council are saving several firefighter positions by mitigating the LGA cuts with $1.75 million from the city's contingency fund, says Stiles.

Still, losing 13 firefighters will impact daily staffing levels. Right now, the city-mandated minimum amount of firefighters on the clock on a given day is 96.

While that standard has yet to officially be changed by the City Council, these new cuts will bring daily staffing to 93, says Minneapolis Asst. Fire Chief Cherie Penn.

"It will affect the standard of coverage," says Penn. "I don't know how to tap dance around that one."

Previous Coverage:

  • Man Down: Cuts have left MFD below industry standards
  • Minneapolis Fire Dept. board-up plan failing after six months
  • Minneapolis fire, police departments face $2.8 million cuts -- at least


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    4 comments
    Frustrated Minneopolitan
    Frustrated Minneopolitan

    The problem is that this mayor claims that public safety is priority #1 yet he ties there budgets to LGA funds.  Being a homeowner in Minneapolis My taxes have increased thirty percent in the last three years, I would like to know where that money is going because it obviously isn't funding the core services that I thought it was.  Tax dollars aren't meant to fund whatever green cushy liberal project the mayor and council want to fund they are meant for public safety and roads.  I don't know how these people sleep at night. The sad thing is that some natural disaster or huge emergency with people losing there live is the only way that this is going to change.

    Kirk the Conservative Jerk
    Kirk the Conservative Jerk

    So what?  This is standard practice for the liberals who run Minneapolis. (the mayor and council)You had to notice the beautiful flower planters, and all those "green" vehicles Minneapolis just added.  Their calculated targets for budget cutting, is all done by design. (make you feel it) Shortage of money, ya right.

    I am willing to bet, just like the State, These "cut" are a lie.   Per the standard of "baseline budgeting"; if they were expecting or projecting a raise in their budget of $10, but they only received a raise of $8, they will call that a "cut" of $2

    vitajex
    vitajex

    Good god, Kirk.  You learn a new term- "baseline budgeting" and then all of your posts talk about it.  Please turn the page on your "Word-a-Day" calendar.

    Kirk the Conservative Jerk
    Kirk the Conservative Jerk

    Nope!  I have been on this for months now.  Claiming "Cuts"  when they are actually spending increases.Now I have an actual budgetary term to tie to the liberal lie, and I will point it out again and again.  Yes in deed, "baseline budgeting" helps expose the liberal lie of "cuts".

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