Amid Contract Fight, Manchester Fire Department Makes Cuts
As the city of Manchester and its firefighters’ union try to reach a new contract, cuts have been made at city fire stations.
Starting Sunday, Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan reduced the number of firefighters per shift from 46 to 37.
Goonan said the cuts were necessary because the fire department is over budget.
The reason for the budget problems is a drastic increase in overtime expenses.
Overtime has ballooned in the last month as many firefighters call in sick and others work overtime to fill the vacancies.
The Department's overtime budget is $1,341,000; Goonan says he has already used 41% of this in the first eleven weeks of the fiscal year.
Chief Goonan says the cuts are necessary to make up for the budget shortfall, but that ultimately, they make Manchester less safe.
"It's not ideal for the citizens of Manchester and certainly not for my firefighters," he says. "I'm concerned about both of them. I know it's a safety issues on both sides, but I'm in a lose-lose situation right now."
The firefighters' union has been without a contract for over 450 days.
Jeff Duval, President of the Local 856 Manchester Professional Firefighters' Association, says the increase in sick time among its members is not an organized effort, and that the union hopes to continue negotiations soon.