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Ft. Myers Fire department coping with layoffs

Posted at 10:36 PM, Feb 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 22:36:04-05

The department hired two people back after laying off six earlier this month, but is still short handed.

The layoffs came after a grant from FEMA expired earlier this month.  The department first received the grant in 2012.

Now administrators are having to shuffle staff to fill the holes.

"It's a combination of paying attention to sick time use and abuse, and covering part of the vacancies with overtime,”said Deputy Chief Vincent DiCristofalo.
The shrinking of department personnel comes at a time when call volume around town is increasing, up 9 percent between 2016 and 2017.
"But what the chief has been able to do, working with council, is we put on two more trucks every day, we are staffing two more trucks than we normally do.”

That's because there are now 3 firefighters assigned to a truck instead of 4.

DiCristofalo insists the public isn't in any danger.

He argues even if there are less firefighters on a truck, more engines can be called to a scene if extra help is needed.
But his department can only be stretched thin for so long.
"As the city continues to grow, and as the city moves into strategic planning and address the growth in the city, the fire department is critical infrastructure."
The city manager and city council have the ultimate say on approving money to hire firefighters on a permanent basis.