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How will dynamic staffing impact residents? City Council asks

July 24, 2019 11:45 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- News10NBC is taking a closer look at a controversial plan for city fire departments.

Dynamic staffing means city officials can close a fire station for certain shifts to save overtime costs. However, critics say this could be a threat to public safety.

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Dynamic staffing was a part of this year's budget that passed but Wednesday was the first time the Rochester City Council has really had a chance to ask in-depth questions focused on the potential impact to residents.

City officials say the plan is a cost avoidance tool that could potentially reduce overtime spending by $1.2 million. Depending on the staffing of the day, the fire chief will make a choice whether to temporarily close a firehouse and shift those calls to another house. That's called a "brownout."

However, Willie Lightfoot, vice president of the Rochester City Council, has been hearing concerns from residents.

"No one wants to lose any services and people love the fire department. I'm a 20-year veteran retired from the fire department and I understand that people really love and respect what we do," said Lightfoot. 

The mayor says dynamic staffing is triggered when firefighters who are scheduled for shifts can't come in. As the department expands with new recruits, it lessens the need for those brownouts.

"...the likelihood of dynamic staffing going into effect because of people calling out on a specific day significantly diminishes with those recruits that are coming out.." said Warren. 

"The numbers show we're right around our average response time...and we did have one call on the first night so what we're looking to give you is mean data probably going to have to implement it 30-60 times before we can tell you the effect of dynamic staffing," said Chief Willie Jackson, Rochester Fire Department. 

Lightfoot says he will be watching the numbers closely.

"This council is prepared to do what we need to to make sure the community is safe, we're always concerned about the public safety of our community so we will be watching this extremely closely..."

Chief Jackson says if there is a reason the department could have increased calls one night, they will not implement dynamic staffing.

Credits

Kaci Jones

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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