Public Safety Updates
As many of you have heard in the news recently, our mayor is proposing to reconstruct public safety through an assembly ordinance. Your Anchorage Fire Fighters are standing up against this measure due to the decrease in service provided to the community this proposes. Two major components of the Fire Department structure could potentially see a drastic change. Both of these areas have a direct effect to your safety and well being.
This first in our concerns is the changes that would reduce the emergent care you receive. When you call 911 for an emergency for a loved one, you want nothing but the best to be provided. You want a crew that is held to high medical standards, you want a crew that works and trains together, you want the highest medical capabilities available, you want a care provider that reflects the investment you provide as a tax payer. Under this new ordinance our community could see a drastic change in this service.
A second component of the mayors proposal we see having a dire effect on our community is Fire Prevention. The very same group that protects us in public venues (schools, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc…) could see devastating reduction and potential elimination under this proposal. You can read more here.
Bottom line is that your Anchorage Fire Fighters feel the communities of Anchorage and Eagle River deserve an adequate service to protect us. The Mayor’s proposed ordinance plays to a theme of decreasing the level of protection your family would receive. The Fire Fighters have offered other suggestions of cost saving measures to keep your high level of care, but he feels the need to continue with a political fight where our community is the only loser.
The first work session concluded today and the assembly and the administration have made some encouraging strides in the right direction. During todays work session budget version “S” was introduced. In this version the administration and the assembly have made some improvements. The most significant being that station 15 in Southport will remain open. The bad news is that the Truck in Eagle River and the Tender on Huffman are still slated for intermittent closure. The flexible staffing cascade that has been established demands the closure of these two apparatus any time that staffing falls below minimum. Another piece to this puzzle is that the Anchorage Fire Department is currently below minimum staffing. The “S” version does call for a fire academy in 2013 but until then the two proposed apparatus closures will be in effect. It is still a work in progress to get the citizens of Anchorage the fully staffed fire department that they have come to expect.
These are the facts. If these facts are concerning to you please contact your assembly person and the Mayor’s office to make your concerns heard.
With all of the rhetoric being thrown around by our cities top elected official it seems that the facts concerning the proposed budget cuts for 2013 are being distorted and stretched. It is easy to lose track of these facts as they relate to the delivery of Fire and EMS services to the Municipality of Anchorage. The Mayor has proposed two budgets for the upcoming year known as the “A” budget and the “B” budget. Under both budget proposals the Anchorage Fire Department would sustain cuts in service that exceed any cuts during any time in the history of the Anchorage Fire Department.
Under the “A” budget proposal a fire station in the Southport neighborhood would permanently close. A fire station on Rabbit Creek Road on the Hillside would permanently close. A fire station on Stuckagain Heights would permanently close. A fire truck in Eagle River would permanently close. Firefighter positions would be eliminated. In addition to the permanent closures and eliminated firefighter positions, the Anchorage Fire department would employ what is being called the flexible staffing cascade. Under the “A” budget proposal the money used to fill the vacant positions left by injured, sick, military deployed, or otherwise absent firefighters would be cut so severely that those vacancies will not be filled. As a result on any given day the Anchorage Fire Department will close down countless apparatus severely depleting the fleet. The Anchorage Fire Departments ability to effectively deliver essential emergency services will be destroyed. Response times to emergencies will increase dramatically and the number of people available to deal with these emergencies would be drastically insufficient.
Under the “B” budget the Southport station would permanently close, the fire truck in Eagle River would permanently close, and the flexible staffing cascade would be implemented. At first glance it would be easy to feel good about the “B” budget in comparison to the much more dramatic alternative. It is apparent that this was the real reason for the “A” budget in the first place. By merely suggesting the “A” budget the “B” budget becomes a much easier pill to swallow. In the Mayor’s press conference about the budget proposals he endorsed the “B” budget on the grounds that his constituents have been very vocal about their satisfaction with their current level of emergency service. Those same constituents passed through voter approved bonds the very fire stations and apparatus that the mayor is now proposing to close. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the “B” budget maintains the current level of services now provided to the citizens of Anchorage by the Anchorage Fire Department. Consider that under the “B” budget the available resources to respond to emergencies would be permanently reduced by ten percent and through the flexible staffing cascade temporary closures could reduce services exponentially. Response times to certain areas of the municipality could triple and fire and emergency medical services will be compromised.