“Kill firefighters” is a very strong statement- however this is an example of grandstanding getting in the way of logic.
The union head seems to think if the “majors” get demoted to “captains” somehow the troops will die. Yet, should a major die in the line of duty, the captain should be able to take his place- so I guess what the Union president is really saying is that our Captains should only be Lieutenants- or maybe not even commissioned officers- by any normal hierarchical leadership standards.
From the article in the Dayton Daily News:
…a plan to demote 10 district chiefs moves forward as a cost savings measure, according to the president of Dayton Firefighters Union Local 136.
Mike Fasnacht, president of the 320-member union, said it’s a safety issue.
“The city of Dayton will kill firefighters with this plan. These guys have 25 to 30 years experience. They are our fire commanders,” Fasnacht said.
Dayton’s district chiefs are some of the most experienced firefighters in the department. They are the individuals directing operations during emergency incidents.
Under Fire Chief Herb Redden’s budget proposal, the district chiefs would be demoted to captains with a pay cut of 16 percent. The rank of captain would have varying responsibilities including overseeing a firehouse and its equipment.
The district chiefs would be combined in a pool of 26 existing captains, and Fasnacht fears some with less experience will be thrust into supervisory roles.
“Some captains could get taken right off a ladder truck. They may not have the experience of a field officer like a district chief,” Fasnacht said.
Chief Redden said the plan is to train those individuals for command over the next six months.
The flattening of management layers is a proven, modern, management system. It’s something we would advise of the American car companies with no problem, but when it comes to the old-boy system of firefighting, all change is bad. The very same union once howled when I suggested a physical fitness standard for the department- to force 300lb men to shape up or ship out.
Times are tough, and Chief Redden’s suggestion is one of the most reasonable ways to cut costs, yet not cut personnel. While the rest of us are tightening our belts, the union better come up with budget cuts it likes, or accept this one.
Yelling it will “kill firefighters” isn’t a solution.