Minneapolis City Council dumps controversial fire department board-up program

Photo: Minneapolis 79 Screenshot.

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    The Minneapolis City Council is dissolving a controversial program that tasked on-duty fire fighters with boarding up homes and buildings around the city.

    Implemented in fall 2010, the council predicted the board-ups would generate $400,000 per year, which could be used to help the cash-strapped department hold onto jobs. But as we reported last September, the program had lost more than $280,000 in its first 11 months, according to city data.

    "I'm glad that we're getting rid of it," says City Councilmember Cam Gordon. "It's clear that it wasn't making the revenue that the council had hoped at the time."

    The board-up program has been unpopular in the fire department since it began. Though it was designed to save jobs, it also takes fire fighters away from emergencies, aggravating concerns within the department that staffing levels are already dangerously low.

    Late last month, the City Council's Ways & Means committee voted to dump the board-up program after a financial analyst deemed it "unsustainable," though it's unclear when the change will go into effect. At another council committee meeting last week, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel also noted the program was contributing to overtime costs, which has been a contentious issue between the department and the council.

    "We've looked at the cost of the program, and it is an expensive program," Fruetel told councilmembers. "I think money would be better spent to have that let out to a private contractor, and allow me to put those firefighters that are presently assigned to that --which is three firefighters - back on the [rigs]."

    More Previous Coverage:

  • Minneapolis Fire Dept. board-up plan failing after six months
  • Minneapolis firefighter who saved referee to be laid off
  • Minneapolis cuts 13 firefighters, unofficially lowers daily staffing
  • Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel: The City Pages entrance interview

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    Andy Mannix
    Andy Mannix

    Sally Jo-- Probably, although the program isn't specific to Occupy. The fire fighters were in charge of boarding up any home/structure around the city that needed it. Here's a better description from a previous post on the subject: "There are two kinds of board-ups: emergency and non-emergency. With emergency board-ups, such as a door broken out in police raid, firefighters must be on scene within 30 minutes. For non-emergency jobs--most commonly foreclosed houses--the firefighters have 72 hours." Link: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/04/minneapolis_fire_board-up_plan.php#Comments Thanks, Andy

    Sally Jo Sorensen
    Sally Jo Sorensen

    Is this program why the Minneapolis Fire Department was involved in boarding up homes that the Occupy Our Homes MN movement was trying to keep out of foreclosure? 

    Jim Reiter
    Jim Reiter

    Coming soon to Saint Paul....really an income generator!


    Coming soon to Saint Paul........

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