North Shore Fire Department cuts equipment, staff in 2013 budget

Published on: 9/25/2012

The North Shore Fire Department will take one ambulance and one fire engine out of service in the coming year, as well as reduce its daily nonadministrative staffing level from 27/26 to 25/24, as part of a 2013 budget adopted by its board of directors Monday.

Fire Chief Robert Whitaker said the fire engine would come out of NSFD's Glendale station, though a combination fire engine and ladder truck would remain there, and staff members are working out where to cut the ambulance.

The adopted $13.9 million budget means an overall increase in contribution of 1.9 percent for member communities, and an increase of 1.4 percent in the overall NSFD budget from 2012.

Whitaker told the board that by making the reduction in staff and equipment, response times are likely to increase in the scenarios where the department is dealing with multiple calls and needs to draw resources from stations throughout the area.

"(The reduction) limits the crew we have to move around," he said.

As part of the adopted budget, NSFD will begin to contribute $300,000 annually to a "stabilization fund" meant to help absorb the current and future liabilities of post-employment benefits, presently estimated at more than $22 million.

"We're trying to look at all the different ways to manage the unfunded issue now," said NSFD Finance Director Lynn Burton, "before it becomes overwhelming."