Tuesday, August 28, 2007

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

Mayor Bill Grace today said that he wants to make it clear; he is not the one closing Elyria Fire Station #2. In an interview this afternoon with Mayor Grace, he spoke about the current situation with the Elyria Fire Department and the information Firefighters are circulating through fliers at their picketing sites.

“Essentially, in a broad prospective, we set the budget and it is up to the experts within each department to determine the best way, the most efficient way to spend those dollars. We monitor that of course but on the whole it’s their expertise that we rely heavily on especially in Police and Fire. We set that budget within the Fire Department for this year based on competing desires from Police and other departments all of which have been reduced over the years, Fire has not.” Mayor Grace said that handling the overtime in the Fire Department is different then in any other department because in other departments if someone calls off the department just works without that person. The Fire Department has to have a certain number of personnel working in order to perform their duties. The Mayor said that the city has made cuts in every department and the only place to go now is within the Fire Department and reducing the minimum staffing. The Mayor had hoped that the Fire Department could have staffed all four stations with 15 Firefighters. “We challenged the Chief to come up with a game plan for that but it was his opinion, with the leadership of the Department, that with anything less than 17 it would be more effective to just close the #2 Station given how close #2 and #1 are, it makes more sense in his judgment to close one of them and just have more people at the other stations.”

The Mayor wanted to make clear that closing a station was never his directive, rather the decision of the Fire Chief. “Our directive was not to close the station it was about minimum staffing. It was his judgment that said anything less than 17 I need to close the station.”

Today the Mayor’s Office directed the Firefighters to remove the signs from Station 2 stating that the building is closed and in case of an emergency to call 9-1-1. The Mayor this afternoon said that he believes the sign is inappropriate. “It’s not necessarily appropriate to announce a building closed or not, to put a sign out that says in case of an emergency to call 9-1-1, people in the United States are well accustomed to the fact that if they have an emergency they don’t knock on the door of a Fire Station they call 9-1-1 so that is kind of a redundant statement to make on that point.” The Mayor also said that the building, even when Firefighters are not staffing Engine 2, is not closed stating that the Fire Chief, Fire Prevention and the secretarial staff works out of that station Monday through Friday during regular business hours. “That building is open, we may not be dispatching a Fire Engine on any given moment out of there but the building is open to the extent it is not appropriate to put sign out.”

Monday morning phone calls! The Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s residence have been inundated with phone calls from citizens asking what is going on with the Fire Department. The Mayor said that at this point the calls are about 50/50. “I would say honestly the calls have been about even saying why are you closing the station but by the time we finish the conversations with them nearly all of them understand and they understand the tough decision that it is so they get a better understanding cause there are quite a number of misleading, to be kind, statements in those fliers so we clarify it number one and they usually understand. But many calls we receive have been “it’s about time” or “I understand you need to be fiscally responsible” things of that nature.”

The Mayor is quite sure that he has made the right decision for the city and believes that the citizens stand behind the decision. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the community recognizes that we had to do this and they support it. There is no question in my mind whatsoever; we’ve had numerous meetings with the 2015 process, between long extended conversations and shorter conversations where people voted on what their priorities were and overwhelmingly, and it wasn’t even close, the high school was the number priority but safety as related to Police services was right there behind it.”

The Mayor said that this decision was not made in haste or without much thought. “There has been a lot of anguish, a lot of discussion, making cuts everywhere else, everywhere else and every department is just barely able to do their job. Most departments are not able to do their jobs as they would like to do it. You can pick almost any other service we do and say that the Fire Department is more important, and it is and that is why we spend 8 to 9 million dollars a year on the Fire Department. They do get our primary funds, they do get the overwhelming share but it’s not Fire Service at the expense of every single thing.” Mayor Grace said that while watching a clip from the Chronicle Telegrams YouTube site heard the Union President, while being interviewed, comment about a street sweeper that drove by. “One of his comments was Here we have a street sweeper going down the street, gotta clean the street but we have to close the station. They would suggest that everything get sacrificed before the station is reduced. The other thing I would say to that is that on that one narrow item, the street sweeping contract is paid out of our waster water department funds, the whole premise is to keep the streets cleaned to keep debris out of our sewers to keep the sewers running better. That fund is not even legal for us to use towards Police or Fire.”

In closing the Mayor said that the current situation is frustrating but that he has thick skin so he is trying not to let it all bother him. “My greater mission is to make Elyria a great city and this is just one of those blips of debate and turmoil along the way to get there.”

24 Comments:

Anonymous Jay said...

Bullshit Grace. I dont belive the city is on your side about closing the station. sounds good though. You are making a big mistake

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is a politician, he could hand you a plate full of crap and you could thank him for it, oh wait, he just did that. The Chief probably had to close the station due to the minimum manning directive. Sure, maybe the Mayor didn't say, "Close the station." I'm willing to bet he did say your manning is now 14.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Uh, what did we do back before we even had that station?

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Patrick pothead....back before we had that station, they used the old station 2 on clark st. and there was 21 men on duty. Now we have 14, trying to the same job as those 21 guys did....try playing a baseball game with only 4 men on your team versus a full team.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Ahhh close the damn station im sick of this... Every year its another damn thing with the fireman they cry about everything and they only work a forth of the time there on if they are lucky...

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

maybe the city would have enough money to keep the station open if it wasn't for people like james... now I'm making an educated guess that James has no job, has no aspirations of getting a job, has at least 5 kids (he knows of), and a check and or wic card he gets every month (not exactly sure how the welfare system works these days). But my point is... well I don't really have a point other than I thought the comment by james was close minded and uneducated... So I guess my point is firefighters may work a forth of the time there on as james thinks... but it's still more work then he'll ever experience in his lifetime. get a job james and stop posting on tmc news.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James... I soooo hope nothing bad medical wise happens to you soon, let alone a fire break out in your house as you sleep, cutting off your only avenue of escape. Comments like that really make fireman NOT want to help you, but do you know what? They still will, only now it's gonna take a little while longer to get to you, hope you can hold your breath!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if james new anything about a firemans job. They may not being fighting a fire every minute of the day, but they say one good fire is like a years work for most people. And I hope your house don't catch on fire, it would be a shame to have to look in the face of those cry babies as you put it when their trying to save the roof over your head. Every time those so called cry babies fight a fire they put their ASS on the line so you hopefully don't lose everything you own.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Anon,

Why the "pothead" comment? I take that as evidence as to how baseless your arguement is, trying to bait me. Regardless, get out of the house, it's not a weed leaf.

Now, that station was on Winckles St, but who's counting? You obviously have that all figured out.

The FD knew what their budget was at the beginning of the year, the guys running it are the only ones to blame.

You can say we should cut this and that, and you may have a point, but much of that money has already been spent for the year. Fix it next year, sure and FORCE the cheof to stay in budget through oversight, fine, hindsight is 20/20.

Oh, and Matt, your attack on James, don't do that it just makes you look unintelligent and you really had nothing to add to the debate anyway.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

James: you are an asshole. People like you make me sick. Today I was at Community College along with aprox 160 other people taking Elyria Fire departments written test. We all want to help the community during crisis. We are doing what it takes and we will eventually be putting our bodies on the line one day to help an asshole like JAMES survive. Maybe we should let him worry before we bust our ass to get to him. THINK ABOUT IT JAMES.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One hour of firefighting equals 8 hrs of hard labor. DO THAT MAYBE THREE times a day and tell me how the hell you feel afterwards. Ffr. J. Castle station #3 oh by the way anybody seen the baseball???

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two Boston firefighters were killed at a four-alarm fire in a restaurant Wednesday night, according to local news reports.

The blaze at Hi Ho Mandarin and Cantonese Cuisine restaurant in West Roxbury, also left two jakes in serious condition and several injured.

The firefighters were trapped after an air conditioning unit crashed through the roof, according to local reports.

The blaze that damaged a restaurant and spread to other businesses started about 9 p.m., and quickly went to four-alarms.

The is the first line-of-duty death in Boston since 1999.

FOR MORE LOCAL HEROS TO DIE IN THE LINE OF DUTY WWW.FIREHOUSE.COM 84 so far this year. looks like will do 100 again this year boys, hope its not one of us. Ffr. J. Castle Station #3

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HERE IS YOUR 14 FIREFIGHTERS JUST LIKE THAT......



BOSTON -- Two Boston firefighters were killed Wednesday night in a fire in West Roxbury.

The fire broke out just before 9 p.m. at the Tai Ho restaurant at 1727 Centre St. and quickly went to four alarms.

13 other firefigthers were injured fighting the blaze.


The firefighters were trapped when an air conditioning unit fell through the roof of the building. "They became trapped and became disoriented and could not find their way out," said Boston Fire Chief Kevin MacCurtain.

The injured firefighters were taken to several area hospitals including Falkner and Brigham and Women's.

Firefighters could be seen administering CPR as two were rushed into waiting ambulances.

The fire spread to a floral company and a pet grooming business. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino arrived at the fire scene after 10 p.m, but then left to go to Brigham and Women's Hospital


Note: 2 more are on life support and 9 have non life threatening injuries.




Ffr.J Castle Station #3

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from a proud mother of a elyria firefighter:
Can the mayor tell us what it cost the city of Elyria, to call in the extra man power to the fire in downtown a few weeks ago. They not only had to call in overtimers, but also outside fire stations from other community's. Is this the fire chiefs fought that he is under staffed and had to call in overtime and outside help or should he have let downtown Elyria burn to stay in budget.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My apologies mr patrick, maybe your an avid gardener displaying your favorite plant, my bad.

You said "The FD knew what their budget was at the beginning of the year, the guys running it are the only ones to blame." Very true, Patrick, the FD did know what thier budget was at the beginning of the year, thats one of the responsibilities of the chief, to come up with a budget that will get the department by with what he is given by administration. Seeing that department is well understaffed to begin with, his budget was created by him to meet the citys needs. They mayor is the one that choose not to take the advise of the man that knows and drastically cut his budget, with the intention of pulling this stunt, only he was going to do this after the election, but once he found out he was running alone....

Ask your mayor, if he is your mayor, what he plans to do with the 3 million dollar carryover projected for the end of this year.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Anon,

Can you provide me with a link providing information about by how much the FD budget has been cut?

I'm assuming that this "cut" was in ADDITION to whatever might have been cut from the annual budget (from the beginning of the year).

I scanned the front page and couldn't find anything about a sudden reduction in the budget that caused this.

Thanks!

4:53 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Ahh jay is so smart why not try to get a job were there cutting jobs... and people can say what ever they want like matt and jay cause they have no job prolly.. They have nothing better to do than post stupid ass comments on TMC... THEY NEED A JOB you complain so much go be a volunteer fireman cause thats all the good you can do... AND ALSO how many times do i go by a station and see them washing there person car or playing ball..... DO SOMETHING FIREMAN AND MAYBE YOU WILL BE SEEN AND GET MORE FUNDING thanks bye

5:57 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

It's about the overtime!!! The current top $$$ winners on EFD are the ones that make the decisions about how overtime is used. THE FIREMEN (mainly the officers) DON'T WANT AN INCREASE IN STAFFING!! An increase in staffing would mean less overtime for them. Until the mayor steps in and forces the contract to change, or calls out the top $$$ winners on EFD, it will never change!

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey James, leave the volunteers out of this..... who do you think the city departments rely on when they need help? The volunteers show up and show em how it's done.
JAS - proud volunteer ff

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhh..ok, Patrick...The city hires department heads to advise city hall on how thier department needs to be staffed, Mr. Medders advises about the police department...because he is an expert on what the police department in Elyria needs to effectively cover the city at any given moment. Mr. Zeilinski advises about the fire department...because he is an expert on what the fire department needs to effectivley cover the city at any given moment. Which is why they submit the budgets they do. City Hall cuts those budgets to under a level that creates a situation that calls for overtime, and city hall knows this when doing so, there was no additional budget cut from the annual cut. So instead of city hall taking the advise from these gentlemen that he so trusts in to advise him and appropiate the proper funds to them from the 3 million dollar carryover, they place the burden on these leaders to "make it work" with whatever is given them. The fire department is taking the hardest cut because they draw thier funds only from the citys general fund. The police department (nothing against them) did not take as hard a hit because they draw their funds from the general fund and the permanent safety forces levy. That helps to fund thier overtime budget. Your link to the budget is at your city hall, you are allowed to go read it anytime, its not something that is posted on the internet, that I know of. Did you know that if they would of taken that money that was cut from the FD overtime budget and moved it into salary to hire 6 new fireman at the lowest wage, the overtime budget that was approved would of been more than enough. Your always going to have overtime due to fires, mandatory training, members injuried, on military leave, ill, etc. and thats true in every department. Of course that is not including the 3 milion dollar carryover the city is sitting on. Thiere is money for every department in the city. Here's a bit of tidbit for you and Im curious as to your take on this....The city of Elyria has a population of about 56,000 and has 12 counsil memebers and 4 safety service directors. The city of cincinnati has a population of 332,000 and has only 7 counsil members and only 2 "safety service directors". So my point is why does such a much smaller city need so many leaders at the top? What about starting your cuts at the top where the excess is.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James...according to your last comment, that would only mean you dont have a job either, as you are posted comments on TMC as well. See how shallow that comment was?? As for the firemen, You probably would rather have them training, cleaning, etc. every single second of thier 24 hour work day, cause there is no reason to have any rest to be on top of their game when the time comes to fight a fire or make life and death decisions.
Dave...one question, what makes you ASSUME that the officers of the fire department do not want an increase in staffing? Did you interview each of them and come to this fact or are you just assuming that this is the way it is?

9:18 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Anonymous,

I see by your name that you have alot of knowledge and information on this topic. Let me pose you a simple question...

You're a fire officer on EFD making a base salary of $50k a year. With the current overtime system, you've been making a total of $80k a year. You get used to that $80k a year (plus whatever union raise you get to your base). You think that you're going to support hiring in a bunch of new guys that will DECREASE YOUR TOTAL INCOME? Hahahahaha Say yes. Please say yes. Because if you support that, you are already a better person than most of the officers at EFD. If you said yes, you would be demonstrating a love for your job that is greater than your love of money. Say yes, and I commend you. The EFD guys that can change the overtime system are the ones that make the most money off of it. Don't let them fool you. They make statements now about having to work extra days and be away from home more often, blah blah blah. BUT, in the same post, they talk about having to work 2 and 3 jobs to make enough money. So which is it? Time at home? Overtime at EFD? Time moonlighting a 2nd or 3rd job? Tell me, since you seem to have the answers.

Fix the overtime issue. Fireman for fireman, officer for officer.

And for God's sake, sign your post you big sissy.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave...Can i ask you a question? What do you do for a living? or is it...what did you do once for a living?

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a firefighter I can understand that funding sometimes does get cut. Manpower shouldn't. The saddest part is that a pro athlete will make millions while teachers, police, and firefighters will struggle to get by. It's no longer a matter of losing a station, it's a matter of jobs, security, futures for their children. As far as the amount of work a firefighter does...we'll run a scenario. It's 1:41 am...there is a fire at a two story single family home. SO... what do you do...get set up, size up the scene, deploy an attack line, assign search and rescue, secondary search, react to possible collapse, trapped victims...etc. so after hours of hose dragging, wall pulling, life saving, overhaul, scene investigation, more hose dragging, truck cleaning...then back to bed. Then you have a call for a 52 year old man who is in cardiac arrest...it's 4:50 am. In your wildest 9 to 5...I doubt you'll ever put in the effort as these men and women. JAS, there is no difference between full time and volunteer...same team. The fire service doesn't need cowboys...they just fill graves faster. The firefighters of the world do what they do, they need not explain why, to anyone, and nor will any of my brothers and sisters have to, to me. I pray the mayor will work with the chief, so citizens and fireman can rest easy.

10:55 PM  

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