Cincinnati Firefighter Layoffs Would Have Big Impact

Cincinnati (OH) City Manager Milton Dohoney’s plan to fill next year’s $35 million deficit includes cutting 118 firefighters, 38 of whom have been on the job just three weeks, reports

Losing that many — 15.7 percent of the force, now at 750 — could result in half the city’s fire fleet of 40 vehicles sitting idle each day.

These new cuts come on top of the brownouts already in place to save overtime money, cuts that leave an average of five vehicles idle every day already.

Yet Cincinnati’s firefighter-to-resident ratio is higher than the state average. Cincinnati has 2.75 firefighters per 1,000 residents, while the Ohio average is 2.20 firefighters per 1,000.

For residents and business owners, being farther from a working fire station can mean higher insurance rates. Rates are based in part on a city’s Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating, which is decided in part on proximity to fire stations.

A study for the International City Managers Association found that a fire can progress to a flashover, or a simultaneous combustion of everything inside, in as little as nine minutes.

Matt Alter, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 48, says the city administration is considering closing firehouses, not just idling equipment, in Over-the-Rhine and Clifton. But fire spokeswoman Jennifer Spieser said no decisions have been made.

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