Seattle Press
August 30: Don’t cut our budget any further—Seattle fire fighters
THE SEATTLE FIRE Department cannot afford any further staffing reductions, the executive board of the Seattle Fire Fighters Union, Local 27 said in reaction to Mayor Greg Nickel’s proposed budget cuts to the department.

The union, in a press statement released August 27, said further cuts will negatively impact on the department’s ability to respond to fire and medical emergencies. The number of firefighters able to respond to an emergency dropped by more than 12 percent since 1965. At the same time, emergencies increased by 880 percent.

The union, however, said Seattle firefighters are willing to work with the mayor and the city council to prevent any proposed decrease in the fire department's services.

Nickels earlier announced preliminary decisions to reduce the fire department’s eight 24-hour firefighter positions, currently staffed by 33 firefighters. The department would also reduce one management job staffed by a firefighter, for a total reduction of 34 firefighter jobs.

Existing vacancies will offset the need for layoffs, Nickels however said.

The proposed reduction is part of Nickels’ effort to close a projected city revenue gap of up to $60 million in the 2003-2004 budget.

“Public safety is among the most essential basic services the city can provide. We’ve got to operate leaner and more efficiently but it won’t be at the expense of the safety of our citizens,” Nickels said.

Seattle Fire Chief Gary Morris agreed.

“Our goal is to continue to deliver life-saving, professional fire and medical services,” Morris said. “The mayor’s strategy supports protecting the public and will result in continued excellent service to our community.”