Seven members of the village board accepted the final 85-page report analyzing the Garden City Fire Department's fire operations at a special board meeting July 30 at the library. (Deputy mayor John Watras was not present at this meeting.)
Trustee Dennis Donnelly made the motion to accept the report, which was prepared and submitted by the ICMA Center for Public Safety Management.
Also carried unanimously was another motion made by Donnelly to direct village administrator Robert Schoelle to refer the report to the volunteer chiefs to implement recommendation 8 regarding dispatching through Firecom and provide input to the board on implementing recommendation 6 regarding staffing.
Dispatching duties were turned over to Firecom on Monday.
According to draft minutes of the meeting, which began at 7:30 p.m., Mayor Don Brudie requested an executive session to discuss a matter of litigation. The executive session concluded at 9:55 p.m. at which time the board reconvened in open session.
Fire Chief Charles Cavarra arrived at that meeting at 9:15 p.m., according to the draft minutes.
The ICMA report recommends leaving Stations No. 2 and No. 3. unmanned at night. Chief Cavarra told Patch that he, his assistant chiefs and company officers are revewing the report in order to formulate a staffing plan that makes sense.
Cavarra said he was against closing fire stations in October 2011. "I am the chief of the fire department and, as far as I am concerned, these stations should all remain open," he said at an EPOA meeting addressing concerns about delayed response times and rumors circulating about switching to an all-volunteer force.
In order to cut back on overtime, at the direction of the board of trustees the department began operating under what has been dubbed "Code 4" in February 2010.
The six professional firefighters that usually man the village’s three firehouses were cut down to five in order to save money. This left the department staffed with two firefighters at Station No. 2, two at Station No. 3 and one at Headquarters, as well as a lieutenant.
The current staffing level per shift is six firefighters and one lieutenant. If a firefighter calls in sick or takes vacation, that member is not replaced with overtime. Rather, the department goes to Code 4, which brings with it a staffing level of five firefighters and one lieutenant.
Do you think fire staff should be further cut? Let us know in the comments.