Memo Contradicts City’s Explanation for Fire Apparatus Closure
Tender 9, which carries water to Hillside areas, was closed three days last week
ANCHORAGE - On December 18, 2012, a memo regarding staffing the water supply truck at the Huffman Fire Station was sent out to all Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) operations personnel.
Water Tender 9 is at the center of a debate between the city and the fire union.
Tender 9 can supply 25,000 gallons of water to Hillside residents when there’s a fire in a place where water isn't always accessible.
The fire apparatus works just fine, according to both sides of the argument, but for several days last week it was out of service.
“Money essentially,” Union Vice President Mike Stumbaugh said on Friday. “It is a budget issue. It supposedly saves roughly $100,000 to $150,000 dollars out of our budget.”
Its closure wasn't a flaw in the machine, according to Stumbaugh. He said it’s a flaw in staffing.
“There are two things we don't have: the adequate staffing to bump people up to fill that without overtime, and then they're unwilling to pay the overtime, so it's this kind of catch-22.”
But city officials told a different story.
“The water tender at the Huffman Fire Station had been closed on some days… simply it was a scheduling error on our part,” Deputy Chief of Administration John Drozdowski said on Friday.
Drozdowski said it was never about staffing and money.
“The need for firefighters is a subjective determination, and today we have 97 firefighters on duty every day,” said Drozdowski. “We call back people when we need extra firefighters, so we have sufficient resources to do, to provide, provide the service we said we were going to provide.”
Then the internal memo was leaked to CBS 11 News.
“Effective January 1, 2013 the staff model will incorporate the closure of Tender 9 whenever staffing levels for engineers falls below the minimum,” it reads.
CBS 11 tried to contact the Drozdowski and the mayor’s office for comment, but no calls were returned.