Station 23: A data-driven look at the recently reopened house. Also: Apparatus Insider goes under the hood of the new 2017 Pierce EnforcerRead More…
55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204
Now that the final tally for Portland Fire and Rescue’s fiscal year 2012 – 2013 expenditures are in, PF&R Chief Erin Janssens reports that through tight controls, the bureau decreased overtime spending by $747,000. That’s an 9.3% decrease from last year. Over the past four years, the bureau has reduced overtime costs by 21% (adjusted for inflation).
“Everyone knows we strive to keep people safe and provide excellence in emergency services, but we are also good stewards of taxpayer dollars; we work hard to be as efficient as possible while continuing to be one of the most effective and aggressive urban fire & rescue departments in the nation.” says Janssens. “It was a tough budget year, but by tightening overtime policies and having a cost-effective ‘traveler pool,’ we were able to make a significant dent in these kinds of expenditures.”
Overtime in a fire department is often a complicated manner. Each fire apparatus has minimum staffing requirements (established nationally) in order to respond safely, and effectively to emergencies. This means that if any one of four firefighters at a neighborhood station is sick or on vacation (on approved leave creating a vacancy), that position needs to be filled in order to operate safely and effectively. PF&R utilizes an efficiency called a “traveler pool” – a group of trained firefighters whose assignment is to fill these vacancies from approved earned leave. Through number crunching and modeling, PF&R was able to determine that this is the most cost-efficient approach to staffing at fire stations.
“Portland Fire & Rescue is responding to our city’s need by becoming the sort of modern and efficient fire & rescue department that these economic times call for,” says Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “PF&R continually gets high marks from our citizens for response excellence, so I’m happy to see them also demonstrate the tough fiscal responsibility Portlanders need.”