RFD union blasts study it asked for

Local News
Rochester City Hall is claiming a staffing concern expressed by the city’s firefighters union is “without merit.”
 
IAFF Local 1017 argues overtime changes will impact safety, but City Hall is countering with a study that was originally pushed for by the union.

In a letter to firefighters, IAFF 1071 President Eddie Santiago said the staffing changes puts civilian and firefighters’ lives at risk; it’s ineffective and does not provide true savings.
 
Right now, if you call in a fire in the City of Rochester the fire department will decide how many units to send. Each unit has four firefighters and one apparatus.
 
In the past, if someone calls out sick in a unit, RFD would use overtime to fill the spot.
 
Now, under what’s called dynamic staffing that unit with a missing member might disperse to other units, meaning fewer units.
 
“Commons sense just says if you’re coming from a greater distance and depending on what time of the day, you have to take traffic into consideration, you have to take weather, there are a lot of factors that go into that that will delay the response time,” Santiago said.
 
What News 8 learned after that letter was sent out was that change comes from recommendations within a study of IAFF 1071 asked for and supported.
 
It’s called the  Fitch study and it says the current response time is sufficient and suggests dynamic staffing could save money while not greatly impacting that response time.
 
“The study said this could be done safely,” said Justin Roj, Mayor Lovely Warren’s communications director. It also suggested that the city could go further and look at closing stations and look at reducing personnel and that’s certainly not something the mayor considered. The mayor values our fire department.
 
Roj says the Fitch study was the result of IAFF 1071 requesting such a study adding Santiago rated Fitch highly going into the work.
 
“So overall I think in fairness the path forward we’ve taken is an astute one and one I think will protect the community and criticism of that is certainly without merit,” Roj said.
 
Despite that initial support, Santiago says Fitch was actually his second choice to lead the study and the final result went above and beyond the scope of the study by offering up options to improve response time or to save money.
 
“They weren’t supposed to come back with alternatives and they came back with five alternatives and the first two alternatives add companies,” Santiago said.
 
Those first two options were designed to decrease response times.
 
It was the fifth alternative that put forth the idea of a staffing change that could maintain response times while saving money. That’s the one the city is now implementing.
 
Read the letter:

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