Fed funds help offset Youngstown Fire Department station staffing, OT

YOUNGSTOWN — A federal grant will help offset the cost of hiring four city firefighters and will significantly slow down the overtime crisis that threatened to cut back on personnel costs at a South Side fire station, fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. said.

An announcement today by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, of a $398,793 federal grant came a few hours before a city council finance committee tonight to discuss the fire department’s overtime budget.

The department’s overtime budget was $130,000 for the year, and is already at $220,000, O’Neill said. The department was on pace, before the grant, to spend another $200,000 in overtime, he said. Instead, about $20,000 more will be needed, O’Neill said.

The department can hire four firefighters with the federal money – the grant pays 75 percent of the cost of the new employees the first two years and 35 percent for a third year – and have them on staff in a week to 10 days, O’Neill said.

Without the impending new hires – which will bring the department from 123 to 127 firefighters – the city was almost certainly going to be forced to cut back on personnel and a truck at Fire Station No. 2 on West Indianola Avenue, O’Neill said.

“This crucial funding will prevent the department from having to decommission a fire truck,” Ryan said. “That would have been detrimental to the force, given that Youngstown firefighters encounter eight times the amount of structure fires than those of any other major city in Ohio.”

For the complete story, read Friday's Vindicator and Vindy.com

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