Overtime limits imposed on La Crosse firefightersLa Crosse’s mayor is not letting firefighters work overtime, unless they have his permission.
By: Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
La Crosse’s mayor is not letting firefighters work overtime, unless they have his permission.
The City of La Crosse Fire Department currently has ten vacancies, plus a few firefighters on military and extended sick leave. So, firefighters have been working overtime to fill the void. La Crosse mayor Matt Harter says firefighters have already burned through 80-percent of their overtime budget and they're not even halfway through the fiscal year.
Harter says while other departments are scaling back to deal with state budget cuts, the fire department has yet to do so. He says on a daily basis, there’s too many fire staff on the clock.
“We are currently staffed with staff that can respond to any emergency that may arise within the City of La Crosse,” says Harter. “We do have mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities. All of our fire stations will remain open.”
The decision came as a surprise to the department says La Crosse Captain Jeff Murphy, who's also the local president of the International Association of Firefighters.
“It was as if he dropped a bomb on the fire department,” says Murphy, who says his department will have to figure out how to cover the city with less personnel. “Where that gets really hairy, if we have an extra alarm fire in the middle of the night, if we can’t get a hold of the mayor, we can’t call in firefighters to help with a large fire.”
Murphy says requiring the mayor's permission for additional staff will add to response times.