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Milpitas Fire Dept. Avoids Layoffs; Utilizes Federal Grant to Increase Firefighters

The decision to increase the size of the Fire Dept. from 53 to 59 was made at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Milpitas City Council agreed to hold off on layoffs to the Milpitas Fire Department, instead utilizing a federal grant to hire six additional firefighters.

The FEMA Safer Grant of $1.8 million would bring the Milpitas Fire Department force from 53 to 59 firefighters, according to the Milpitas Fire Department Budget Task Force. 

A discussion of potential layoffs will be postponed until the March 19 City Council meeting.

The decision was made after a heated public hearing, in which residents continued a discussion from last week's meeting. They voiced concerns that Milpitas wouldn’t have an adequate fire force in the midst of a growing population and vacant properties.

Several residents expressed concern that the total compensation of Milpitas firefighters is too high, and should be lowered rather than focusing on paying extra for compensation – the main reason why the Milpitas Fire Department found itself in budgetary overrun. 

In a session that stretched on for about 45 minutes, many Milpitas residents shared personal and emotional accounts of when local firefighters saved the lives of their friends, families and neighbors.

“These firefighters don’t just do fires, they do medical,” said one Milpitas resident, saying that Milpitas firefighters saved her daughter when she was seven years old.

Currently, the Milpitas Fire Department receives 2.3 emergency calls per day, according to personnel who spoke at the meetings, bringing the total to 824 calls a year.

“Because of minimum staffing, we have to provide overtime,” said the Milpitas Fire Department Task Force, pointing out that they needed to provide a presence at all four stations.

Before accepting the additional funding, the Fire Department faced an overtime cost of $2 million by the end of the fiscal year. 

Currently, the department has a $480,000 budgetary overrun through the first six months of the fiscal year due to absenteeism, and high overtime by fire service employees to cover the mandated staffing ratios

Brian Jurdivance February 07, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Where did you get the figure of 824 calls a year? You're off about 4000 calls. Before you publicly post data, do some research instead of being a biased news agency.
Rachel Stern (Editor) February 08, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Brian, you can watch the video of the city council meeting that brings up this statistic here: http://vp.telvue.com/player height=300&id=T02061&noplaylistskin=1&video=62196&width=400. It's about 45 minutes into the meeting.
Scott February 12, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Those numbers are averages on 2 stations therefore you can not do simple math to come up with those numbers. Also be careful where you get your info from. Is everything said In a council meeting true? Do some fact checking like a real news agency. Call the fire dept. I guarantee you it's closer to 5000 calls a year than 800.

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