PA Firefighters: Staffing Problems Threaten Public Safety

The union spokesman for Lancaster City (PA) firefighters contends that the city’s refusal to pay overtime is jeopardizing public safety. One of three fire stations in the city was closed during a shift on Sunday, according to a news report on (

Timothy Erb, the union president for Local 319 Lancaster City Fire Fighters, told reporters that contract negotiations between the city and firefighters started in 2011 but stalled in September over staffing issues.

The mayor of the city claims that the fire station closing is merely a political ploy by firefighters to advance their agenda.

The case will go to arbitration later this month.

Lancaster City is not alone in facing staffing issues. Fire departments around the nation have been forced to cut staffing, temporarily or permanently shut stations, and take other steps to minimize costs as municipal budgets shrink. For more stories on this problem, consider Are We Short-Staffed or Just Short-Sighted, First-In Tactics: Dealing with Limited Staffing, and Accepted Practices: Taking the Best and Leaving the Rest. Don’t forget to read Scott Joerger’s series on firefighters trying to save an engine company endangered by budget cuts.

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