ASHLAND, Ore. — The union representing Ashland firefighters is sounding the alarm on budget cuts that will affect Ashland Fire & Rescue's ability to respond to emergencies. According to Ashland Firefighters Local 1269, the agency will be running "harder with fewer resources" next year.
"Ashland Firefighters received some disappointing news this week, as the fallout from 2019’s budget cut continues to evolve," the union said in a Facebook post. "As you may remember, AF&R’s operating budget was reduced by several hundred thousand dollars this year in an effort to close a gap in the City’s 'General Fund.'"
In May, Ashland Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi resigned his position in an effort to thwart firefighter layoffs. While Local 1269 said that those layoffs were indeed averted, the City went ahead with cuts to Ashland Fire & Rescue's personnel budget.
The union said that on January 7, Ashland Fire & Rescue will have to reduce its minimum number of on-duty firefighters from nine to eight — which Local 1269 described as creating a snowball effect. When two firefighters are out sick, on vacation, or on family leave, the union says that Ashland Fire & Rescue will have fewer vehicles manned and half as many firefighters stationed on the south end of town.
Short staffing would force Ashland Fire & Rescue to remove one fire engine from service while the agency's Station 2 ambulance is out on calls, the union said — which "happens often" and would leave only one engine to cover the entire City, for as much as a few hours at a time.
"In a nutshell, operating the Department on this model requires us to run harder with fewer resources and undercuts AF&R’s ability to handle multiple simultaneous emergencies," Local 1269 said.
"Your local firefighters understand the Department has no choice but to work within its budget, and we’ll shoulder the load as best we can," the union continued. "We remain committed to providing the highest quality of service to our community, regardless of circumstances, and we want to thank you all for your continued support!"
On Tuesday, NewsWatch 12 reached out to City Hall. We wanted to talk to someone about this budget cut. Why another cut is happening for the fire deparment and where the money is going? No one called us back.