Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Fire Rescue says hiring will save money

BROOKSVILLE — During the last budget year, Hernando County Fire Rescue personnel clocked more than 1,000 shifts of overtime.

And while those shifts amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll costs, the money isn't the only reason why fire officials are recommending a change that county commissioners will consider Tuesday.

Hernando County Fire Chief Mike Nickerson will recommend hiring six additional fire and rescue personnel and amending the department's 2009-10 budget to make that addition.

While the move may seem unusual at a time when the county is not even filling open positions, the plan is designed to save money.

Over the course of a full year, the new employees, filling in for fire and rescue workers on vacation or leave, could save the county an estimated $200,000. If approved and put in place Dec. 1, the change could save $166,100 by the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, Nickerson estimates.

And while the move to cut overtime would take money from current employees, some of whom count on the extra pay when they fill in for employees who are away, one other factor is more important.

"Money is great. But when it comes to safety, that has to be our priority,'' said Jason Brazinski, president of the firefighters union.

For years, Brazinski and the firefighters have been concerned that some Hernando fire companies still run engines with just two firefighters. That's true for four of the county's eight trucks.

When an engine rolls up on a fire, a two-person crew can face a dilemma since only one is suited up and ready to enter a burning structure. Safety protocol dictates that firefighters should enter as a team.

Under the plan before commissioners Tuesday, the additional personnel would provide a third person on an engine when they weren't filling in for someone.

Brazinski said he will even push for the county to consider hiring nine new people rather than six because it would ensure even better coverage.

Hiring nine new additional people, however, would not provide the same amount of savings. Nickerson said he is recommending six because, with the next couple of budget years looking grim, he does not want to bring people on board who then might have to be let go.

Nickerson said the plan to add more personnel was something that came up as officials were negotiating the current labor contract with firefighters and while his department was preparing its budget.

Union officials, concerned about keeping wages as high as possible, looked at the large overtime bill and questioned whether it might be time to analyze what to do, and Nickerson agreed.

While the county had done an overtime analysis before, this time it was made simpler through a new computer program that keeps track of work schedules.

By looking at the actual work history of employees, officials were able to calculate the impact of adding three, six or nine employees, Nickerson explained.

"It was some very sound math,'' he said.

The savings come simply by filling work hours with lower-paid new personnel rather than paying time and a half for more senior employees.

With the ability of saving money and increasing safety, Nickerson said, "it's pretty hard to not like this plan.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County Fire Rescue says hiring will save money 11/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It's fake

    National

    The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

    A framed copy of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009, that hangs in at least four of President Donald Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, is fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time. The real March 2, 2009, issue of Time featured actor Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump. [Left, Time; right, Angel Valentin for the Washington Post]
  2. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid

    Editorials

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  3. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Blogs

    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.
  4. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO

    Editorials

    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …