From firehouse.com front page....
Unions Slam Plan to Hire Laid-Off Detroit Firefighters
By Serena Maria Daniels
The Detroit News (Michigan)
Created: August 6, 2012
A proposal to hire laid-off Detroit firefighters in Hamtramck is under fire by union officials in both cities.
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. -- A proposal to hire laid-off Detroit firefighters in Hamtramck is under fire by union officials in both cities, with some calling the pitch a political "sideshow."
Hamtramck Firefighters Local 750 president Bill Diamond sent a letter to Dan McNamara, president of Detroit Fire Fighters Association Local 344, expressing concerns about a possible shared services agreement between the two cities. The letter said Hamtramck's elected officials failed to consult the union before going to Detroit City Council this week for its blessing.
"They obviously do not understand the UNION side of this proposal and how unbeneficial it would be and the turmoil it would cause," the letter reads.
The proposal would include hiring as many as 30 laid-off Detroit firefighters, the equivalent of Hamtramck's entire department, said Nevrus Nazarko, Hamtramck's acting city manager. They, in turn, would canvass a 3-square-mile section of Detroit along with Hamtramck.
They would be paid for, in part, using federal grant dollars, which officials are seeking to secure.
Detroit firefighter Bruce McMurtry, with Engine 56 at Seven Mile and Ryan, said leaders in both cities don't seem to realize the implications of such an agreement.
"I don't think city managers understand what that would entail," McMurtry said. "That 3-square-mile area they are looking at is a very busy area for service."
The proposed area of coverage would roughly be bordered by Interstate 75, McNichols, Mound Road and just north of Carpenter.
McNamara called the timing of the proposal an example of political games. Hamtramck Councilwoman Cathie Gordon, who is running for Wayne County Commissioner, made an initial pitch to Detroit Council President Charles Pugh earlier this summer.
"It must be election time, but it's not fair for the people we protect and serve or to the protectors," McNamara said.
Not sure I am seeing what the union point is on this plan....how will it be unbeneficial (to hire 30 laid-off guys) and what turmoil?
I had family that was living in the area of Detroit and know the area is in bad bad shape economically. And I am sure there is a lot more to this story than the little posted here. But getting 30 guys back to work....that's pretty big in my opinion.
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Thread: Please explain to me....
08-07-2012, 10:28 AM #1
Please explain to me...."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
08-07-2012, 11:45 AM #2
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To me the article is poorly written and unclear as to exactly what is being proposed. One red flag for me was the part explaining that hiring these 30 FFs would double the size of the suburban FD. Sounds very unrealistic to me in this economy, even with grant money (that they don't know if they will have). What happens when the grant money runs out?
Additionally, according to the article it sounds as if these 30 FFs (now employed by the suburban FD) would provide primary coverage for that community along with a 3 square mile area of Detroit. The article mentions "shared services", but to me this isn't really a situation of shared services, this sounds like Detroit relinquishing fire protection responsibility for a portion of the city to another FD - basically "outsourcing", which would require negotiating with it's fire union.
I'm not sure I specifically see all of the concerns of the Locals involved, but I'm sure there is much more to what's going on with this than what is covered in this story. The plan just doesn't seem very well thought out.
08-07-2012, 11:53 AM #3
"The proposal would include hiring as many as 30 laid-off Detroit firefighters, the equivalent of Hamtramck's entire department, said Nevrus Nazarko, Hamtramck's acting city manager. They, in turn, would canvass a 3-square-mile section of Detroit along with Hamtramck."
The way I read it, and I may be wrong, is that Hamtramck (wtf kind of name is that anyway? They need a couple more vowels in there) is going to hire the laid off Detroit guys, and then provide Fire Protection for a 3 square mile area of Detroit, as well as their city. If in fact that's what is meant by "canvass" in this context.
The 30 guys going back to work isn't the issue as I see it, the issue is that in essence, Detroit is "outsourcing" Fire Service to another city. I don't blame Detroit's Union for having a HUGE problem with this, if this is what's happening.
08-07-2012, 03:44 PM #4
08-07-2012, 04:29 PM #5
The Hamtramck local's leadership knows what a sh--storm this could be, and want to make it clear that they didn't start it.
That's my guess.
08-07-2012, 08:42 PM #6
I wouldn't refer to either Hamtramck or Highland Park as "suburban." They adjoin each other and are completely surrounded by the city of Detroit.Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
08-08-2012, 08:34 AM #7
Ok here's the low down on this. Hamtramck is a very small city within the boarders of Detroit. It may at most have 21,000 residents and dropping. The problem is with the fact that Detroit has been going into both Highland Park (turned into a Public Safety Dept. around 1985) and Hamtramck for years to cover their fires. The city manager of Hamtramck wants to take over a 3 sq mile area of Detroit and request a SAFER grant to hire. This plan is not well thought out and there would be no way they would need or afford the 30 additional firefighters. Because of the area covered, Hamtramck would continue to have to use Detroit assets because of the area and its high fire numbers. Both cities have an asset and staffing problem now when they have more than 1 fire in their area. Highland Park and Hamtramck are both in financial distress and both have been finacially distressed for the last 6-7 years. Their pension system is in a shambles and underfunded big time (I believe this is behind the city managers idea), unlike Detroit's P&F system that is 101% funded right now. This must be brought into the equation on the overall concept.
It would be more feasible and actually make more financial sense for Detroit to take in Hamtramck and Highland Park, not the other way around. Detroit even though hurting has more assets and ability in all areas but EMS. This is a political game by the city manager of Hamtramck to shore up his own base. I understand his desire to keep Hamtramck running but it's unlikely they will pull themselves out of the financial mess they're in by doing this. I will also say again that it would not stop them from continuing to ask for Detroit to come in and help with assets and manpower that costs Hamtramck and Highland Park nothing but costs Detroit in staffing and apparatus use expenses, not to mention response times in its own area. Detroit consistently responds into both cities and those cities have rarely except on 2 or 3 occassions had to respond into Detroit in the last 50 years.
I had actually done an indepth report in the late 80's, early 90's on consolidation of these 3 depatments. The study that took me 3 years to cpmplete showed that there would be an approximate savings in their fire budget of 20-22% for Highland Park and Hamtramck and would bolster Detroit by around 1-2% budget wise, although not high it wouldn't lose money in the overall concept. The political powers in those 2 cities were not happy at the plan and and said no way Jose, although they did state it would help them fiscally. The new hires would also be brought into the Detroit P&F system, which would allow those 2 cities to get their own pension obligations in order through the savings of consolidation. The Detroit P&F system would still be over 100% funded and could bring in those small numbers. Highland Park Public Safety has around 20 individuals who are crossed train in Police and Fire (their main job is Police) with 1 station. Hamtramck has around 23-26 personnel total with 1 station. With Detroits attrition rate right now, eventually bringing in 40-50 new people is really not out of the question (Detroit has mandatory retirement age of 60 and the average age right now is around 47-48 years old). The 36 that are layed off now will be back in a matter of months because of the rapid attrition rate in the D.F.D that will continue for the next 3-4 years ( although retirements are high right now there will be an average of 45-55 retirements a year and even that will keep rising over those next 3-4 years).
Think about it. Would it be more beneficial for a larger city (think Indianapolis) to take in a much, much smaller city than for the smaller city to take in a large city. It would also make more financial sense for all 3 cities to combine operations under the largest of the 3.
Last edited by FireCapt1951retired; 08-08-2012 at 09:38 AM.
08-08-2012, 09:14 AM #8
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08-08-2012, 09:40 AM #9
Unfortunately not but then again I'm not a political prostitute.
Last edited by FireCapt1951retired; 08-08-2012 at 09:42 AM.
08-08-2012, 03:20 PM #10
Highland Park got out of the PSO business and went back to separate Police and Fire in 2005 . They kept some of the PSOs as single role firefighters. Hamtramck runs BLS ambulance. Both HP and Hamtramck have shifts of about 6-8 guys on duty out of single stations. In HP many of the FFs are part time/reserves. Lots of youtube videos of HP FD fighting massive fires with 3-4 guys.
As for the union deal, here's the statement from HFFA L750:
"We are doing everything we can to spread the word that we are not trying to assume the work of another local and we are well aware that the our brothers and sisters in Detroit are highly against this. We’d like to try to clear the air before rumors start running further out of control.
You may have already heard this news already: the city of Hamtramck has approached the city of Detroit in regards to being compensated for having the Hamtramck Fire Department provide fire protection services to areas of Detroit.
The Detroit City Council has a meeting scheduled with our city to further discuss this plan. From our understanding, it is an area totaling about 3 square miles around Hamtramck. The city of Hamtramck and the Chief of our Department (under orders by City Council) have drafted a plan. Our Chief has openly admitted to “only supporting this plan as long as both locals agree to it.”
These actions are being taken by our city leaders – NOT THE HAMTRAMCK FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION IAFF LOCAL 750. We want our brothers and sisters of the Detroit Firefighters Association IAFF local 344 to know what is going on.
When we got word of these talks we immediately contacted DFFA President Dan McNamara and have had several conversations with him since. The HFFA Local 750 IS NOT ACTIVELY PURSUING to take any work from DFFA Local 344. The Executive Board and our legal counsel believes that the cities are going to use Detroit’s consent agreement and our cities financial hardship and try to force this upon our membership at which point we will both be able to take legal actions.
If anybody has any questions please do not hesitate to call a member of our E-Board at the firehouse (313) 876-7778. We do not need or want another Waterford/Pontiac situation on our hands.
08-08-2012, 06:00 PM #11
You are correct on the realignment with the F.D. and I stand corrected (although I do know that the P.D. still operates on some levels within the F.D). Unfortunately it doesn't change what and why the city manager is trying to do what he's doing. Fortunately, I do know the union itself isn't endorseing his actions.
There is going to be a problem with Hamtramck as well as Highland Park in regards to finances, just like Detroit. Although Hamtramck doesn't call in Detroit as often as Highland Park does, it still and will continue to do so and I can understand that. I understand they can't handle much more than 1-2 fires at a time because of the staffing levels and other problems creeping in but it also has a problem with its underfunded pension system and its unfunded liabilities in both, which is why I believe the city manager is suggesting this at all.
Whether anyone likes it or not (and I don't), I do believe that consolidation will be the eventual outcome as time goes on. I just don't believe that Hamtramck is the department to take over any part of the D.F.D's operations. If it's to be done, it should be Detroit that takes in the 2 smaller cities.
As far as the UTUBE videos, a lot of them are taken of the Highland Park members but I guarantee they have already called the D.F.D in, even with the apparatus and staffing cuts in the D.F.D they still respond into Highland Park on a regular basis and I don't see that stopping. Hamtramck doesn't like calling the D.F.D (although they have had to at times) in but as their demographics continue to change it will be hard for them not to.
Did you know that in "04" Ecorse (another financial nightmare) actually considered a merger with the D.F.D. but couldn't come to an agreeable figure and the same scenerio was considered with River Rouge.
At some point you may see a type of metropolitian department formed with these smaller cities that are in or right on the boarders and Detroit. I did my masters thesis on consolidation and it's effects, advantages and disadvantages. I even took it as far as creating a county wide system (that's why it took me almost 3 years to complete) which seemed to pee off more than few Department Chiefs . I believe it's possible to bring them together but I also believe Detroit should be the F.D. that takes the lead. All have financial problems up the whazoo but as far as operations in all areas but EMS (that's a another discussion with it's own unique problems), Detroit is the better suited department.
The Idianapolis merger was in my opinion a very well thought out consolidation and I think it may be a model for other areas in the country. As I stated above, I firmly don't believe that the much smaller departments should be the lead departments in any consolidation with larger departments.
It will be a crap storm for sure but only time will tell.
Last edited by FireCapt1951retired; 08-08-2012 at 06:31 PM.
08-08-2012, 06:06 PM #12
You're right, it is a ***** sandwich for all involved. Hope you didn't see my attempt to add some info as a challenge to your knowledge of the situation. Note the concern of the HFD guys with not wanting to go through the mess Waterford/Pontiac did. Lots of consolidation talk in my county as well, but none of the politicians want it unless they can close firehouses. They don't care about service or capability one bit. I'd like to see us go to a county wide model, but I'll be long gone before that happens.
08-08-2012, 11:40 PM #13
No problem Gunny. I have seen this crap coming for more than a few years, as a matter of fact it was one of the reasons for my decision to retire when I did. Unfortunately I think consolidation is coming in one form or another. Will that be good or bad, who knows. I think that it could work but the enviroment in which these decisions are made will decide its effectiveness in building that consolidation where no one seems to want to lessen their hold on their sainted positions of authority ( you know, mayors, council members, city managers and yes even fire chiefs), rather than doing whats best for those we serve.
Last edited by FireCapt1951retired; 08-08-2012 at 11:51 PM.
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