Winnipeg fire chief says more firefighters needed to reduce OT costs
Coun. Morantz says before that happens, chief must explain absences
Winnipeg's fire-paramedic chief says he needs to hire three dozen more firefighters in order to reduce overtime costs and stop coming before councillors every year to explain why his department is over budget.
WFPS Chief John Lane appeared before city council's finance committee on Thursday morning to explain a request for an additional $1.3 million for his department this year.
The money is required to cover overtime costs because the existing overtime budget of $2.1 million is not realistic, he said.
The city ought to budget an additional $2.7 million a year for firefighter overtime — or hire 36 more staff, said Lane, adding he's aware of the financial limitations of the city.
The key is to finding what he described as a "sweet spot" between spending money on more firefighters and spending money on more overtime. Too little of the former means more of the latter, he said.
City council finance chair Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said before the city considers putting any more money in the WFPS budget, Lane must explain why too few firefighters are available to work at any given time.
According to a report presented to the finance committee, the WFPS tries to have 215 firefighters on shift at any given time, while the minimum number of firefighters per shift is 167. If there are more than 48 absences, someone must work overtime.
The report states those absences are due to a number of reasons, including holidays, sick leave, training and injuries.