Tuesday, May 24, 2016

WWNY: Staffing "Fits Right In"

     In a staggering bit of editorializing masquerading as news, TV 7 declared Watertown's 15 person minimum staffing requirement "fits right in" with their survey of other upstate cities.
      Their own survey shows Auburn at 12 and Elmira at 10.  Those differences amount to millions of dollars. Just playing with numbers a 12 person level here would reduce staffing by 12 or an immediate 15% reduction in the tax levy.
       Kingston NY (not Ontario) was said to have minimum of 21 which is higher and would result in at least  a 30% levy increase here.
        Such comparisons don't take into account many factors, not the least of which is the city's contention that manning  is a function of management not a CBA.
         Further, words matter, and suggesting Watertown as "fitting right in" is a characterization of data designed to support a conclusion.
        Watertown will not succeed in it's bid to purge the contract of minimum manning, in part because there own explanations of intent are murky.  
         There best hope is a lower level providing some cost containment in the years leading up to the end of the hydro agreement, which I mentioned last year as something the city had best come up with a plan for, but that doesn't seem to be happening.
          In today's climate resolution of any of this seems far off.      
         Firefighter Staffing Levels: Looking Beyond Watertown | WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for | Local News

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surprise, surprise... the WDT is on the wrong side of an issue oexnce again.

Anonymous said...

Look at it this way. The firequeens will cry, with tears flooding our Black River, which will result in increased hydro power production. The taxpayers, for once, win.

Anonymous said...


Time for Fire Dept to quit their blatting and such it up.

City Council 1 - Fireman - 0

Move on with a plan that cost the taxpayers less $$$$$$$$$$$.

Anonymous said...

You seem to underestimate if not completely dismiss the increased motivation created by minimum staffing. With minimum staffing, not only is the fire employee motivated to call in sick for his own benefit of enjoying a day off from work, but also for the benefit of his union brothers who are guaranteed overtime to cover the shift. And then the next week the OT hounds feel the need to pay it forward and call in sick themselves.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the city is treading on shaky ground on demoting these guys.These are not demotions caused by the them not doing their job,it is fiscal only.And the city has shown they have adequate fund balance and money for other projects.I don't think you can do that under civil service law if the captains are past their probationary period of being promoted,don't think you can just demote someone and take away their pay on a whim.They may be able to restructure the fire department and keep these captains at fireman rank,but I would bet they will have to pay them the captain's salary until these men retire.

Ray said...

One issue I keep hearing that really bugs me. Everyone saying there needs to be less going to a crash of cars in the streets. I have been in fender benders in the past in the city, and yes I even thought (WOW) what a circus! But after working with cars all my life, I realize you never know when one is going to catch fire, and they burn dam fast! I have seen a small spark take one within minutes. Burned to the ground! They know what they are doing when it comes to being ready for it all. I agree that's the only way they can do the job right. It's all or nothing. How is anyone in City office going to feel the first time a family dies in a burning car, and all it took was two extra guys on the spot to save them? Go look around you home tonight. Do you even have a way to put out a simple fire? We are made to have such equipment at the garage, and we still can end up needing help from the guys. I in fact got real lucky over the years, and was able to put two cars out without much damage. Fire is such an easy thing. I want them to continue to have enough guys, even if it is over kill.

Anonymous said...

Fire half of them, staff with 3x volunteers and no overtime unless directly at the scene of a fire. Easy peasy. You're being scammed otherwise, plus the pensions are being manipulated by the fake overtime.

There's a cat in a tree, or somebody fell of a bicycle and broke a toenail. . Quick roll out the ladder truck on overtime, plus they get paid extra in their pensions for the rest of their lives for the call.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you all have not used the services and Thank God for that, because you would be all hypocrites. 11:19 if you are actually counting, you can research the many times the fire department has won and advertised in the paper as the court of previous years has issued a ruling in favor of the fire department and not the city. Maybe this is because of their legal team hired here locally. Look how much Slye has costed the city in dollars over the years battling them and losing. Maybe those scores will show you something different.
As for this win, its not over till its over so hang on.
Jeff, you are right. How many studies has the city paid for over the years and they STILL DO NOT follow what the study professionals have suggested. Why even do the study, and maybe the council and CM should be held accountable for Political Injustice if there is such a thing. Maybe if they were sued as a body for the inaccuracies and non professional plans they are creating and risks they are considering, they might thing twice. I really hope it doesn't come down to that type of learning process for them.. but maybe it will have to.

Anonymous said...

When was this minimum manning negotiated into the city's contract with the Fire Dept?
How long ago?

Anonymous said...

i had an uncle there almost 30 years ago and it was there.

Anonymous said...

Had the manning clause not been negotiated into the contract years back then undoubtedly the WFD would have found it's true required staffing level long ago and adjusted it periodically over time according to need.
If you give the workforce (Union) the right to determine how many workers will be on the job they will without fail make the job fit the workforce rather than the other way around. No consideration is given to the cost of having excess manpower, only to maximizing the number of workers you can throw at a task. Costs can simply be passed on to the taxpayers.
The threats of taking the long way to the fire or putting in less than a full effort in an emergency show the true colors of the supporters and quite possibly these hero's themselves. Think about that the next time you witness a crisis and ask yourself "are they doing everything they could? or... is their effort proportionate to their personal feelings about the victim of the crisis?".
The one thing you can count on from them is to extort every dime possible from the taxpayers regardless of how much or little they exert themselves.
A significant number of the city firestaff lives outside the boundaries of the paid fire protection area where volunteers protect life and property yet they incite fear and drone on and on about how the city is unsafe without a fully paid high headcount staff.
How can this be, they should be shivering in fear being so far away from paid protection.

Anonymous said...

The union does NOT set manning and never has. It is a number agreed upon by MANAGEMENT and the union and confirmed by 3 studies paid for by the city. If the union set the number it would be much higher as 15 is actually understaffed by national standards. The level of ignorance displayed by some people is amazing

Anonymous said...

If the union doesn't set it the the city should just state what it is and move on.
The level of arrogance displayed by you firefighters 9:47 is nothing short of amazing in itself!