SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When the state fire alarm sounds, firefighters across California suit up and head out the door, but the promise of IOUs instead of paychecks has some departments hesitating. State legislators have yet to determine a budget, forcing some state departments to issue registered warrants, also known as IOUs, instead of checks. The state’s mutual aid program — involving most fire departments that help battle summer blazes — may suffer for it. Jay Alan, spokesman for the California Emergency Management Agency, said that as a result there has been talk of local fire departments being unable to respond to a mutual aid emergency, like a bad fire, earthquake or a tsunami. Continue reading Calif. IOUs discourage help from regional chiefs
Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, Ohio Fire Chief Donald Barnes was dismissed after balking at orders from his mayor to make a new round of cuts in the fire department’s budget. The Shaker Heights Fire Department had already been forced to shed four firefighters earlier this year. But when Chief Barnes was then told to slash $250,000 from the department’s budget and lose more positions, he refused. The Chief of seven years was subsequently dismissed by Mayor Earl Leiken. In this exclusive interview with FireRescue1, Chief Barnes speaks publicly for the first time on the dismissal, his fears for other departments in the current economic climate and his plans for the future.
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Continue reading Exclusive: ‘No cuts’ Ohio chief speaks out on dismissal
OAKLAND — The union representing Oakland firefighters voted 335-64 in favor of a new contract that will freeze wages and increase the hours firefighters work as the city faces an ongoing financial crisis, the union’s president said this week. The city relied heavily on concessions from city workers to try to balance its budget this year, and the firefighters became the second major city union this week to agree to a new contract. Chuck Garcia, president of Local 55 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents Oakland firefighters, said the union agreed to the deal to save jobs and protect services. “I think it’s important that the citizens know that Local 55 took a leadership position to save the city $6.4 million so the city could have a balanced budget,” he said.
Under the terms of the contract, firefighters will work 56 hours a week rather than 52 with no additional pay, will have cost-of-living adjustments frozen through June 2011, will continue paying 13 percent of their retirement pensions, and possibly will have a less expensive health plan. The contract will run through June 2012. Continue reading Oakland fire union agrees to contract in face of budget crisis