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Mayor, Fire Chief discuss plan to end fire company brownouts

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Details are released about a plan that could put more firefighters on the streets of Cincinnati and eventually eliminate the city's current brownout situation. Currently the fire department closes fire companies on a daily basis to meet the city's budget.

Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun says the recent recruit class that graduated on Friday allows the department to reduce the number of brownouts from five to two. But the chief says his department is still about 50 firefighters short of eliminating brownouts all together and that's not good enough. "I was asked yesterday if I was comfortable and breathing easy with two. I will breathe easy when we have none. We are operating at a minimum, not at a recommended and not at an optimal but at a minimum. So even when have no brownouts it is important to remember that a minimum number means that we can meet the NFPA standards, but we are no means overspending our money in our budget but we are operating as lean and as efficient as we possibly can."
City leaders plan to continue to supplement the department with overtime funds to the tune of $2.5 million per year. Chief Braun is seeking another federal grant to pay for two years of new recruits and salary. He hopes to have another class of new recruits begin training as early as May.

The chief's proposal now goes before the law and public safety committee on Monday and the full council on Wednesday of next week.

When asked how the city plans to deal with the budget issue once grant funding runs out, Mayor Cranley said attrition within the department should make the problem budget neutral.




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