Monday, August 27, 2007

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

Elyria Firefighters took to the streets last night passing out fliers telling residents about the Mayor lowering the minimum manpower for the Fire Department.

Union leaders this morning held a press conference outside of the now closed Station 2 at 330 East Broad Street. Immediately following, Firefighters and family members began picketing at the station and also outside of Elyria City Hall, right below Mayor Grace’s office windows. Fliers that were passed out last night listed Mayor Grace’s home and office phone numbers, encouraging residents to call and ask him why lowered the manpower. This morning a number of angry residents did make those calls to the Mayor’s office only to be referred to the Fire Chief. That didn’t sit well with one resident Michael Evans. “That is horse shit plain and simple. When I heard about this last night I read what the Firefighters put out but I wanted to hear the Mayors side so I called up there and was told that I had to talk to the Fire Chief. I told the woman, I already know his side and that I wanted to talk to the Mayor, she again told me that all calls are being refereed to the Chief. I was mad as hell but I didn’t want to yell at that young lady, not her fault that the Mayor was being cowardly. I suppose when you know that you have the next election wrapped up you just don’t care.”

Neighbors who were just learning of the closing were not happy to hear that the neighborhood station would not be available to them. Bonnie Brannon lives right across the street from Station 2; “I don’t understand it, it just seems like games are being played with our safety here and I don’t like it. We pay our taxes for protection and now we are being told that the Mayor is not letting the Fire Department have the money needed to run their station? That is insane.”


Chris Langdon lives in Station 2’s district; “If the Mayor feels that the Chief or the guys in the Department is mishandling the funds they were given then he needs to prove that and hold those accountable, otherwise free up the money needed to run the Department and quit playing politics.”

Thomas Alonge received his flier downtown this afternoon and although he doesn’t live it Station 2’s district he is concerned about what happens when the truck in his district goes out to cover a call for the closed station.
“I am not sure if the Department is spending their money prudently or not. I see the brand new SUV’s they are driving and not sure if that was a wise purchase if there is a money crunch. However, I do believe that Police and Fire are the absolute last two departments that you cut funds from. Do away with the guys on tractors watering flower pots downtown everyday. Do away with the other fat in the overall city budget. I wonder how much money was spent on consultants about the new school being brought downtown. As a tax paying citizen the last place I want to see cuts are in the Fire or Police departments.”

Firefighters will continue to protest over the cuts and continue to tell the public their side.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Mel said...

Well it's my understanding that the citizens of Elyria had the chance to vote on Fire Levy to prevent this. I live in Lorain and I voted for a tax increase to save my fire and police protection. So, don't blame Mayor Grace when you had a chance to help.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point but the administration in Lorain screwed that levy up. The former mayor sold the idea of a levy on keeping the first responder program in the fire department going and a new jail. The started builing the jil but then had no money to keep it open. So who knows, it may have been the same thing in Elyria. Typical politics no matter what city.
R Haas

10:21 AM  
Anonymous big john said...

its a loss for the citizens no matter how you look at it. like efd or not they give a good effort on the emergency scenes i have been on with them. and they try to provide a good service. take away their man power and the ability to provide the same level of care is comprimised. the mayor needs to find another idea instead of cutting the firemen.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the mayor keeps saying the firefighters are over using their budget, but how do you expect them to stay within budget. when you keep cutting their manpower and they have to call in firefighters for overtime. they are under manpower now so everytime they have to call in guys it cost double or even triple their salary. so where does he expect them to save money.
kplato

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any city that closes Fire Stations is a city with major internal budgeting problems. The solutions to the problems are always cut the Fire Dept!!! They all need to sit down and figure out a solution to the problem closing 1 station and cutting 3 Fireman from the budget is not going to fix whatever it is they are trying to do. As far as Lorain Fire and the City that is another problem due to those screw ups there Lorain Fire now runs no medical calls at all.....and no change in site!!! They work very hard up there daily and deserve better .......... same with Elyria Fire .......... I hope these cities can fix this quick and take care of the men and women who take car of it!!!

Local City Fireman

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to mel.... Elyria has never had a fire levy for the citizens to vote on. The "safety forces" levy that was passed a number of years back is for the police department only. No money goes to fire. The use of calling it a safety forces levy was misleading to con the voters into believing that. That is why the police department has no problems there, they draw off of two overtime budgets, one from the general fund, as the fire department does, and one from that levy for all of thier special teams, training, and whatnot. If the fire department in Elyria would have a levy for them or have shared in that, they wouldnt have the problems as bad. What gets me is that Mayor Grace keeps stating that the department couldnt stay within thier budget....a budget that was underfunded and cut drastically by him knowing how much was needed. Why have a fire chief for this city if he isnt going to listen to him.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amherst, Lorain & Elyria Police Department Budgets are all higher than the Fire Depts in the same cities. Police cuts are never issued in these cities, but the first to go when money needs saved is the Fire Dept. Politicians choose raises for themselves over safety for the community which they serve!!! What is happenings in these cities? Lorain cuts Fire personel and Medical runs, Elyria Personel and closes stations, Amherst spends over 2 million on police and not even $600,000 per year on Fire Dept than isnt even full-time!! Which the Fire Dept in Amherst does an excellent job and are very efficient, however staffing is extremely low during the day!!! Full Time Dept is needed here!!!

Amherst Taxpayer

Amherst Taxpayer

6:09 PM  
Anonymous mel said...

Well, it's true the firefighters do get a lot of overtime. They sometimes rank in the top ten. But, I was told wrong about the levy. I was told it was for both police and fire. But, that's the government for you.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Raysteph said...

Since this has happened in the past, It will continue to be a problem in the future as well. Would it make sense to stop signing the contracts for EMS service in the city through Lifecare and put ambulances in the fire stations? All the firefighters have to be EMT's anyway. They respond on calls. Why not let them transport to the hospital as well? It seems redundant to have firefighters and lifecare personnel responding for the same medical calls. The money saved from the EMS contract could be used to support the fire station and higher minimum staffing levels. Also, More money could be saved by the city's new EMS services by soft-billing insurance companies for EMS transports. By soft-billing, the out-of-pocket money from residents would also be reduced and give the city's residents a little relief on the wallet.
Maybe it wont work the way I'm thinking. But, then again, It ain't working now, is it?

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, Lifecare doesn't get a penny from the Lorain or Elyria for their service. They make money by billing insurance companies.

Pete, Avon

10:58 PM  
Anonymous jt said...

To Raysteph:
It is not that easy.. Due to past politics, Neither Lorain or Elyria pay anything to LifeCare to run EMS in Lorain or Elyria. For either City to start up Ambulance transport would cost..guessing $1,000,000. or more... No I am not kidding. First of all, LifeCare services provide Paramedic service. Most of the f/f are basic EMT's. They would have to be trained to the higher level of pt. treatments. Purchasing ambulances, equipment, etc. Plus the additional cost of maintenance, staffing, etc. You would need MORE firemen to staff the squads. Right not you are utilizing firefighters from engine co.'s. You would need additional personnel to staff the squads, you cannot take the firefighters off the engine, and truck companies. Now you have to maintain continuing education and training to the paramedic level. The cost of insurance for the Dept. would also rise.. Right now, as sad as it may sound, both cities are much better off with LifeCare. You have a company that is dedicated to providing EMS. They deal with the training, staffing, vehicles, etc. Lorain and Elyria are really getting a "bargain" with LifeCare. It is like getting free ambulance service. Our tax dollars do not go to LifeCare. They have to bill individually for thier revenues. I just hope that LifeCare can continue to provide the service. With insurance companies getting tighter, goverment funding and spending also changing... I wish the the best... There are very few cities that actually have a 3rd. service in thier community that are strictly EMS providers...

11:13 PM  
Anonymous big john said...

its obvious mayor grace has no idea what so ever about emergency services. on the ambulance we get people who walk up to the station quite frequently. they don't always have a cell phone, and pay phones are getting rarer by the day. and the fire dept in my city gets walk ups also. I think if the station is not going to be staffed then the sign is a good idea. some people are not that smart, but they can still usually read.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to raysteph lifecare is a private company who recives no money from the city. and they are usually good in my experience in doing payment plans with people. a lot of people never pay a dime on their bills and that really is the problem.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous big john said...

amen jt we'd be awfully bad off without life care. people would have to find out what its like in the old days before ambulances. people take them for granted and they should not its a rough job. and we are lucky to have paramedics who can get to most of there scenes in under 5 min. imagine how many lives are saved. without them lots more people would not make it to the hospital.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Eric L. said...

I agree with you JT. I believe third party ambulance services (like LifeCare) help most cities by keeping taxes lower. You pay when you need them; that's it.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Overtime is the problem. The old boys club is killing this city. Fireman for a fireman, officer for an officer. The firefighters and officers who can make the changes and save the city money are the ones getting $$$$ from the current system. They will never change it unless the mayor steps in and forces the hand. Would you?

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record. Most of the young firefighters looking for jobs are FireMedics and are trained for both fire and EMS. They are paramedics not just first responders or basics. Residents get billed by lifecare. As far as insurance who has health insurance anymore?? Not many. Ask the people loosing their homes in Elyria if they have insurance. Ask all the residents that are leaving Elyria why they are leaving.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why doesn't EFD takeover ems from life care and hire paramedics buy a couple squads start soft billing and bring in some money because ems calls are 90% of a fire dept calls.

3:05 PM  

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