MINNEAPOLIS - The heat has been on when it comes to questions over staffing, overtime, and injuries at the Minneapolis Fire Department for years.
On Wednesday Mayor R.T. Rybak proposed to cool things down by budgeting an additional $1.1 million to the base budget for the fire department for the next five years to beef up its ranks
"Allowing us to now start in the other direction a little bit now we are very optimistic," Fire Chief John Fruetel said of the news.
Right now the department is staffed at 92 firefighters a day; response time isn't meeting the standard set for a department its size and the men and women are aging.
Right now there isn't a firefighter on staff under the age of 30 and retirements are looming.
"It could potentially be over the next 5 years upwards of 150 that could retire," Chief Fruetel said.
That is more than 38 percent of the current staff.
So news to add now is welcome.
"We get so tight in terms of staffing every time we lost a fighter it has dramatic impact," the Chief said when asked how a minimum staff hits the overtime budget.
Overtime, due to injury and short staffing is at levels that could reach more than one million dollars this year.
"Two people get hurt at a fire we hire overtime that night to bring them more in, we are that short," Minneapolis Firefighters Union President Mark Lakosky said.
All of this again is a part of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's proposed budget, it still has to get city council approval.
Council Member Gary Schiff says that shouldn't be a problem because eight council members have come out publicly this year saying increasing the budget for the fire department was their number one priority.
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