NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– The New Haven Firefighter Union President says they are disappointed in the Board of Alders move to cut 10 lieutenant positions from the fire department. These are positions that have not been filled for more than 10 years. The Mayor says it will save the city nearly $800,000, and they’ll use some of that money to hire more firefighters.
“We think that we’ll be able to reduce the overtime. As you know, the overtime numbers are really spiraling out of control every week,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. “I think the only thing that will happen is that we’ll have more firefighters at the entry-level and that we’ll reduce overtime.”
“I think that’s New Haven fuzzy math, there’s no savings,” said New Haven Fire Union Pres. Lt. James Kottage. He said the last promotional exam was administered more than 10 years ago.
“The guys on the job, we have acting lieutenants, we have acting captains and they do a great job, but we need, a bullpen we need some experience,” said Kottage.
Both Harp and Kottage said crews are currently doing a great job, but they disagree on how to move forward.
“I have all the confidence in the world in our fire department and that they will continue to serve as brilliantly as they have,” said Harp.
“If you’re saying you can still do your job effectively, then why do you need the 10 lieutenant spots?” we asked Kottage.
“Opportunities. That’s 10 lost opportunities,” said Kottage. “They’ve been in the budget the last fifty years. There should have been a discussion.”
Kottage says they currently have 34 lieutenants on the force and they did have 50 positions at one point. He says a firefighter in New Haven currently averages about 80 hours a week.