Staffing changes directed for Salinas Fire Department

Salinas Fire Department to reduce staffing

SALINAS, Calif. - Staffing level changes are on their way to the Salinas Fire Department.

The Fire Fighters Association is speaking out saying they're already doing a lot with a short staff.

The association says the cuts will be effective June 4th, the same day the new Salinas fire chief starts his job.

The city says the cuts leave the department above minimum staffing levels.

But the association says it's still a risk to public safety.

"Every year at budget time there's tough decisions to be made, I don't think public safety should be one of those decisions," said Josh Hostetter, President of the Salinas Firefighters Association.

The city says there's a $7.4 million dollar deficit for the next fiscal year.

"We are going to reduce the overtime and we do want to make sure all departments are providing their share of savings to make sure we can make budget," said Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz.

The ladder trucks are currently manned by four people but, after June 4th, it will be cut down to three.

"There's four people and their job is to get in there and save anybody who's trapped inside the house, when it comes to vehicle accidents that's our piece of equipment that carries the jaws of life," Hostetter said.

Still, the city says the fire department will have the staffing numbers needed to do their job.

"Minimum staffing level in the current memorandum agreement with the fire union is 23," Corpuz said, "We might get down to 25, so there's plenty of ways we can still maintain minimum staffing and live up to our contractual obligation while still reducing overtime costs."

"I don't know how anyone can think that you reduce the number of people doing the job and services stay the same or get better, they don't. They suffer," Hostetter said, "You need a fire chief and his staff and his professionals to tell you what's the best way to deal with this situation, those aren't decisions that should be made by city administration or counsel."

The city is hosting a budget study session, Tuesday starting at 4 p.m. at Salinas City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

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