West Side fire station will be first to close on Thursday

YOUNGSTOWN — The city Thursday will close a West Side fire station through the end of the month and then shut down other stations every two weeks on a rotating basis to make up money the department needs to pay for overtime costs.

It’s a move that doesn’t please city council, the fire chief or the firefighters union.

The department has already spent about $81,700 of its budget $108,000 for overtime this year and will hit the budgeted figure by mid-July, fire Chief Barry Finley said.

The issue, Finley said, is nine of the department’s 127 firefighters are off duty with injuries that occurred while on the job. That’s led to an increased need in overtime to make up the understaffing issue, he said.

The department needs about $60,000 to $65,000 to cover overtime for the rest of the year, he said.

Fire Station No. 15 on Schenley Avenue and McCollum Road will be the first to close and be shut down through June 30, Finley said.

For two weeks, starting July 1, Station No. 9 on East Midlothian Boulevard will be closed followed by No. 3 on Belle Vista Avenue for two weeks, Finley said.

The city’s eight stations will eventually all be temporarily shut down for two weeks as part of this rotation, he said.

“It’s a systemic problem that’s going to affect the entire city,” he said. “We’re going to do what we have to do.”

Fire Capt. Chris Weaver, secretary of the city’s firefighters union, said: “We’re not supportive of this at all. We want to keep everything open and running.”

For more, read Thursday’s Vindicator.

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