The Orland Fire Protection District is expecting to bring on full time the new firefighters hired in July a little earlier than originally expected.
The 11 firefighters have been training in an eight-week program since September, where Orland Fire instructors have acclimated them to the district’s emergency processes, and to gauge their skill levels.
“They’ve performed admirably,” said Orland Fire Chief Ken Brucki at Tuesday night’s board meeting. “They are doing everything that we’re asking and more. We made some assumptions about how long it will take to gauge their skill level and we found we can cut a week. We hit that benchmark a little sooner than we thought.”
The new personnel were added to cut overtime costs, and to relieve overworked firefighters. Fire officials have projected that overtime costs will be around $1.9 million by the end of 2012, and the new hires can cut that number to between $300,000 and $400,000 in 2013.
The district now fills shifts with 32 or 33 firefighters, though with planned time of up to eight firefighters, the staffing number can drop to 24, Brucki said Tuesday. The district maintains a minimum staffing requirement of 28, so four firefighters need to be brought on through overtime to keep the staffing requirement, he said. The added hires will bring the shifts to 36 firefighters, so even if up to eight are out on paid time off, the staffing requirement can be met without pulling people in on overtime, according to Brucki.
“We identified several safety issues for our firefighters,” Brucki said. “We were simply working too much overtime. We don’t need tired or non rested firemen after coming off of one or two shifts in a row, several days in a row.”
Closed Session Minutes Released
Orland Fire trustees approved the release of closed session meeting minutes from 10 meetings between June 2011 and February 2012.
The minutes are expected to be made available on the fire district’s website.
Firefighters to Assist Seniors with Smoke Detector Battery Replacement
Orland firefighters will be working with Orland Township Senior Services to make sure elderly in the area have functioning smoke detectors.
“We found that seniors are reluctant to climb ladders to replace smoke detector batteries when they go out,” said Orland Firefighters Local 2754 President Wally Rafacz during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Firefighters will visit any seniors who sign up at the Orland Township offices at 14807 Ravinia Ave, and replace their smoke detector batteries between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2.
Firefighter Contract Negotiations Continue
Orland Firefighters Local 2754 and the district still have not agreed on a contract for the upcoming fiscal year. Brucki said talks are progressing and moving forward, while Rafacz declined to comment.
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