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Thread: Could Budget Woes Affect FDNY?

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    Could Budget Woes Affect FDNY?

    Could Budget Woes Affect FDNY?
    Next Class Of Probies Told Training Was Indefinitely Postponed

    POSTED: 7:43 p.m. EDT October 17, 2002
    UPDATED: 8:32 a.m. EDT October 18, 2002


    Story by wnbc.com

    NEW YORK -- An overwhelming $5 billion budget gap is forcing New York City to push back the next class of firefighters. The 300 probies were told Thursday that they will not be joining the FDNY for the foreseeable future -- and that may be just the tip of the iceberg.

    Over the last year, the New York City Fire Department has been racing to replenish its ranks to fill the positions have been left by record retirements, as well as from the deaths of those lost on Sept. 11.

    However, the next new class of 300 probies was supposed to go for training on Nov. 4, but NewsChannel 4 has learned that they are now are being told the training has been postponed indefinitely to save money.

    City officials said that that the postponement of the class could save the city about $1.6 million a month.

    But how is it the FDNY can do without those 300 firefighters, given that firehouses operate under strict minimum staffing requirements, and the wave of retirements is still ongoing?

    The concern among the rank-and-file is that the only way this class won't be needed is if the City Hall is planning to close fire companies -- an extremely controversial money-saving move that NewsChannel 4 is told could be a serious possibility in the near future.

    It takes 30 firefighters to staff one fire company, so to postpone the upcoming training class of 300 could reduce the need for staffing about 10 companies.

    However, no final decisions have been made, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta say.

    Scoppetta said the Fire Depatment has over 1,200 new recruits over last 12 months, which has kept pace with promotions, retirements, and the losses from Sept. 11.

    The city's firefighter's union said that this would be a big blow to the already short-staffed FDNY -- and it could potentially leave the city ill-prepared in the event of another terror attack.

    Scoppetta hopes that they'll be able to take another look at the situation in a few months.

    Administration sources also told NewsChannel 4 that it's possible that the next class of New York Police Department cadets may also be postponed, and that the department may cut 1,000 officers, and another 1,000 civilians working for the force.



    http://www.firehouse.com/news/2002/10/18_IBSny.html

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    Fire Dept. Delays Hiring in Bid to Cut Its Budget

    Fire Dept. Delays Hiring in Bid to Cut Its Budget
    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER


    The city's Fire Department is postponing the hiring of 300 firefighters as part of the department's effort to cut 7.5 percent of its budget this year, officials said yesterday.

    The department, which lost 343 men in the World Trade Center attack, has been struggling to rebuild its ranks, which have been badly battered through retirements and attrition. According to fire officials, the department is operating at roughly its budgeted workforce of 8,600 firefighters, but is losing more than 40 a month. Any delay in hiring will mean that the force will continue to shrink.

    A class was to have begun training in November. Postponing the next class of 300 firefighters until next year will save the city about $1.6 million, city officials said. "I think this is a prudent thing to do and see where our budget discussions go," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said in an interview last night. "I really think we are going to take another look at this in eight or nine weeks and see if we can do a class in January."

    The decision to delay hiring is one of the many tough choices that the Bloomberg administration must make as it struggles to close a budget gap of $5 billion to $6 billion for the next fiscal year.

    In just the last week, the administration has discussed various tax increases, including a real estate tax increase as high as 20 percent, and has begun to pressure the largest agencies

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    Cutting back Bravest

    Cutting back Bravest

    Mayor's plan could ax 8 engine companies

    By BILL FARRELL, MICHELE McPHEE and DAVID SALTONSTALL
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS


    Budget woes are causing Bloomberg to consider cutting some FDNY services.

    As many as eight Fire Department engine companies could be closed under a doomsday budget plan discussed yesterday.
    Commanders from each of the boroughs, in meetings with the mayor's Office of Management and Budget, also weighed the possibility of closing some firehouses from midnight to 8 a.m. every day, when calls often decline.

    "The budget problems are real," said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon. "And the reality is they are getting worse. It's so bad, everyone is going to take a hit."

    The meeting came a day after Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta confirmed that he would delay indefinitely the next class of 300 probationary firefighters, who had been scheduled to begin training Nov. 4.

    The postponement means the FDNY likely will have to make do with fewer firefighters as a surge in retirements continues to deplete the department, which lost 343 members Sept. 11.

    The possible closing of eight engine companies could be one way to reconfigure the downsized department, experts suggested. Some noted that 300 firefighters - the size of the probationary class that has been put on hold - is roughly the amount of manpower needed to keep eight engine companies rolling 24 hours a day.

    "There's a defined number of firefighters that have to be on duty," said Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Peter Gorman. "When we heard the city was canceling a class of 300 firefighters, we expected there would be a corresponding plan to close companies."

    City officials refused to provide details yesterday on when engine companies might close, saying it was too early to speculate on timing.

    No shutdowns

    Under the scenarios being discussed, however, the closed engine companies would be in firehouses where ladder companies would remain - meaning no firehouses would shut completely. Fire engines and ladder trucks are different types of firefighting apparatus, and each crew has its own responsibilities. Fire engine crews are in charge of the hose lines, and their rigs are equipped with a water tank, a pump to propel the water and various hoses. The ladder crew is in charge of entering buildings, providing necessary ventilation and performing search-and-rescue operations.

    Furthermore, sources said, an effort would be made to spread the pain, with one engine company from each borough closing and possible extras in parts of Brooklyn and Queens that could be easily served by other companies.

    "These are all worst-case scenarios," said one department official. "But with some of these fire companies, they are literally on top of each other, even in busy neighborhoods."

    Mayor Bloomberg raised the possibility of closing eight engine companies "in areas of low call volume" in his current budget, but the so-called contingency cut was not implemented.

    Now, with the city facing a $5 billion to $6 billion deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1, officials seem to be dusting off the proposal, which would save about $10.1 million.

    Asked on his WABC-AM radio show whether he planned to close some firehouses, Bloomberg said yesterday, "I'm going to try like heck not to."

    Gorman conceded the city is in dire financial straits. "But there are still threats out there," he added. "I don't know if the Fire Department is the first place to look."


    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/stor...5p-26879c.html

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