Everett Firefighters Union Asks For Staffing Levels to Return to 2010

Everett Firefighters

Members of Everett Firefighters Local 46 make their presentation as fellow firefighters look on.

The Everett Firefighters Union Local 46 presented its Deployment Plan to the Public Safety Committee of the Everett City Council Wednesday afternoon prior to the regular Everett City Council meeting.

You can click here to see the presentation: IAFF 46 Deployment Plan for EFD

“It’s time to get them back,” said Paul Gagnon, President of Local 46. “Restore Aid 6, Aid 2 and Engine 3 to full time service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

Those units were cut back after 2010 in an attempt to curtail expenses as Everett dealt with a 1 percent cap on property taxes and declining revenues after the great recession. The City of Everett has been dealing with what it calls a structural deficit and in early 2014 began studying ways to cut expenses. One of the things to come out of that was the desire to study the three most expensive to operate departments in the city. Fire, Police and Everett Transit. The first selected to be studied was the Fire Department.

At the time both the administration and union expressed concerns over the independence of the study. A company called Fitch and Associates was selected to conduct the study. The initial draft came out in August of last year.

Among ideas proposed as part of their power point presentation the representatives of Fitch offered three options they say could save the City of Everett anywhere from 2 to 7 million dollars. All three options included closing fire stations 4 and 5. They also suggested relocating poorly designed and out of date stations to areas more central to the majority of calls.

Other options included contracting out basic life support calls and using more medics than firefighters during peak times. Fitch representatives advised the council they look at things differently than other consultants and that it was up to the city to decide its level of risk versus cost savings.

Here is a recap of the “Risk Tolerance” conversation that Fitch brought to the city.

On Wednesday December 16th the Public Safety Committee heard from both the Everett Fire Department Administration and the Union with their take on the Fitch study. The Administration said it would be coming forward with new plans for the department this year. The Union blasted the Fitch study in a presentation you can see here.

Everett Firefighters

An Everett Firefighter pours water on the north side of building E at The Bluffs Apartments.

During its presentation yesterday the Union cited the recent fatal fire at the Bluffs Apartments on Casino Road and the fire in which a baritsa died as a result of her injuries when her stand exploded, as times where the addition of Aid 6 may have been helpful in the outcomes of those events.

The Union also pointed out that there would be no extended negotiations or equipment purchases needed as Engine 3, Aid 2 and Aid 6 are here and available. The issue would come down to the amount of money necessary to staff the rigs full time. For changing the business model and having alternate service vehicles or manning stations with extra crews for just certain peak time shifts, the Union says negotiations would likely be extensive and may take years.

Councilmember Brenda Stonecipher reminded the Union that it’s not up to the city council to negotiate contracts or determine how many firefighters should be assigned when. “At then end of the day it’s about response time,” she said. Once the city council determines the acceptable risk tolerance and desired response time its up to the fire department administration to meet those goals.

Councilmember Jeff Moore said, “We’re not going to close stations.” He also said that they wouldn’t be adding any staffing right away either. “That’s not happening tonight,” said Moore.

The next step in what surely will be a long process is for the Everett Fire Administration to make its suggestions to the public safety committee. That’s slated to happen in February.

About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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