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Tulsa Fire Department Makes Cutbacks Without Layoffs

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The department eliminated 13 positions and canceled the next fire academy. Without new recruits, the department will get smaller and by July will be short 30 firefighters. The department eliminated 13 positions and canceled the next fire academy. Without new recruits, the department will get smaller and by July will be short 30 firefighters.
Individual firefighters are taking pay cuts by losing their pension contribution, uniform allowance, fitness pay and step raises -- it amounts five percent of their pay. Individual firefighters are taking pay cuts by losing their pension contribution, uniform allowance, fitness pay and step raises -- it amounts five percent of their pay.
The ideal is to have four people on each truck. In Tulsa, there are usually three and by the end of the year, there won't be enough firefighters to have even that minimum of staffing. The ideal is to have four people on each truck. In Tulsa, there are usually three and by the end of the year, there won't be enough firefighters to have even that minimum of staffing.

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- There are city cutbacks, but no layoffs at the Tulsa Fire Department.

So how can they cut without sending firefighters home?

The fire department started with a reorganization that eliminated jobs through attrition. That will save $1.5 million a year, every year.

Now to cut even more, all firefighters will share another pay cut, but none will be laid off.

Firefighters are taught to work together. It's a safety issue at fires, but under the heat of budget cuts, it means that all will share the burden instead of just a few.

"We are just trying to get by for the rest of the year," said Chief Allen LaCroix, Tulsa Fire Department.

The fire chief says the department is downsizing through attrition. He says it will impact what the department can do.

"There will be some rolling brownouts of fire companies. When we can't fill that shift, we'll have to shut down that fire company down and take it out of service," said Chief LaCroix.

The department eliminated 13 positions and canceled the next fire academy. Without new recruits, the department will get smaller and by July will be short 30 firefighters.

"There's no way you can say a reduction in force won't have an impact because it will, just like with the police," said Chief LaCroix.

Canceling the next academy means retiring firefighters won't be replaced. It's just part of the additional $1.4 million in cuts that the department will take with the approval of the firefighters union.

"And we did that so the firefighters would know ahead of time what would happen if things got worse," said Stan May, Firefighters Union President.

Individual firefighters are taking pay cuts by losing their pension contribution, uniform allowance, fitness pay and step raises -- it amounts five percent of their pay.

The department reorganization will put smaller crews on smaller trucks to save money. The spending cutbacks include some training and equipment that is due for replacement.

"Our equipment will be older, it will wear out. Injuries will go up, safety will go down," said Stan May.

The ideal is to have four people on each truck. In Tulsa, there are usually three and by the end of the year, there won't be enough firefighters to have even that minimum of staffing.

At any given time, about 140 firefighters are on duty in Tulsa.

10/27/2009  Related Story: Thirty-Seven Tulsa City Employees Get Pink Slips

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