(Cincinnati) -- Since 2009, the City of Cincinnati has kept about five fire companies closed every day. The "brown-outs" were rotated among different stations, and were meant to save money.
But, critics charged the move put people's lives, and property at risk, because fire companies would have to come from farther away, and response times would increase.
Now, Mayor John Cranley has released a plan to reduce the number of brown-outs to two, with eyes on eliminating them altogether. The idea is similiar to one unveiled last week for the Police Department: the use of overtime, and a new recruit class.
Mayor Cranley says the current budget has $2.5 million that will cover the overtime, and the City will apply for a federal SAFER grant to cover the next recruit class.
Fire Chief Richard Braun says on Friday, they graduated 41 new recruits, and with them on duty, and with more overtime hours for all firefighters, they can reduce the number of daily brown-outs to two or fewer. He says with the federal grant, they hope to start a new fire academy class in May, and have them graduate in November.
The plan doesn't need Council approval, but it will be introduced next week at the Law and Public Safety Committee. Committee Chair Christopher Smitherman says that way they can send a message to the City Manager that they want another $2.5 million in the next budget for the overtime for the next fiscal year.