Hamilton OH Residents Question Brownouts

Several residents expressed concerns to Hamilton City Council (OH) about recent brown-outs of a fire station since the new year started.

Brown-outs of two fire trucks were taken out of service a week ago as a result of budget cuts to balance the 2013 General Fund budget that was approved by council.

Tower 22 housed at Station 22 on Pershing Avenue and Quint 27 housed at Station 27 on Shuler Avenue were taken out of service. In 2011, the city paid more than $1 million in overtime pay to firefighters to keep a minimum of seven fire trucks and three EMS units in operation.

City Manager Joshua Smith said the city’s new baseline minimum is five fire trucks and three EMS units in operation. On Jan. 2, there were 10 firefighters off work due to vacation or sick leave, which also required browning out a station.

On May 5, when a federal SAFER grant expires, the Shuler Avenue fire station will be temporarily closed and the city will be laying off 18 firefighters because of budget cuts. However, the city is planning to house a fourth EMS unit at the Shuler Avenue fire station starting Jan. 1, 2014.

Former fire chief Joe Schutte said many residents on Hamilton’s East Side didn’t understand that the Shuler Avenue station would be subject to rolling brownouts until May.

Fire Chief Steve Dawson told council that while the two fire trucks are out of service, the current minimum has been five fire trucks and three EMS units in operation. However, Dawson said due to some software issues with the 911 database system, the city has not been able to house an EMS unit at the Shuler Avenue station. On Wednesday night, there were two EMS units housed at the Pershing Avenue station.

The Hamilton Fire Department responded to 12,201 incidents in 2012, according to officials. About 83 percent of these were for emergency medical reasons.

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