Several years ago the Fire Union came to me with a book trying to get support in an effort to fire Chief Crowson. In that report they stated the same argument. Manning levels are too low and we need $750,000 more in overtime. I parted ways with the Fire Union over this book and its subject matter. That would put the Fire Department at $3,000,000 a year, and for what? What you get for $3,000,000 is the Fire Department doing what they swore to do when they graduated from the academy. We had the lowest number of firefighters per capita in the Metroplex, and we were second in overtime. Ft. Worth was the only city higher.
Chief took this issue to task and slashed the overtime budget from 35,000 hrs. to 6,000 hrs. He took the Battalion Chief position, that gets the bulk of overtime hours, and created a Deputy Chief position which was salaried. Fire Departments all over the United States are having overtime problems, but Arlington is in compliance. Here is a link to Austin's issue with over 1,000,000,000 overtime hours billed to the city.
Arlington runs a terrific fire department. There was no need to change it, but the citizens and a lot of the firefighters didn't know what they were changing. They only knew that the Fire Union wanted it changed. So now the Council will direct staff to stand up a Civil Service Board, and impose Part 143 of the Local Governance Code upon the Fire Department. Lots of benefits will be removed and few will be added back. I had one firefighter tell me, "thanks for the generosity!" My thought was, I was generous before civil service and you didn't appreciate it. So now after all the raises and the benefits that you didn't seem to care about, you want me to be generous? I love our firefighters but not their union. The union will get exactly what the people have stated they should get, civil service.
The Union President stated to his faithful that he had talked to all City Councilmen , except me, and that their benefits will all be restored, " don't worry." There are two huge lies in his statement. 1) I asked all the other Council members if he had talked to them about benefits. All shook their heads NO! 2) If your current benefit is contained in Part 143 it will remain. All others will be removed.