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All Firefighter Houses Staffed Eliminating Brownouts

CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- The city of Cincinnati has more than three dozen new firefighters working Monday night.

Thanks to them, the city's brownouts are fast becoming a thing of the past.  At Ladder Company #2 there was often a brown out.  Since 2006 that's been the case at about five firehouses out of 40 city wide.

A new recruit class on the street though is filling most of that gap.  And Mayor John Cranley and Chief Richard Braun are going for another federal grant to make brown outs a thing of the past.

First time firefighter, Joshua Alter, was thrilled to be waking up early for his new job on day one Monday.  Not only is he a graduate of Friday's recruit class, he's realizing the dream of following in his older brother's footsteps.  His older brother is a firefighter and union president.

The class of 40 puts 15 new firefighters on the street each night.  Previously, due to brown outs, 20 have been missing each night.

For example, when Ladder Company #2 is out of service due to a brown out, the Ladder Company in South Avondale is called to pick up the slack.  That's a distance of 4.6 miles away. 

The city has been using different federal grants since 2008 to pay for recruit classes but until this last class it wasn't enough to cover those lost to retirement and attrition.  The lack of staffing hasn't been due to lack of interest.  Alter has tried for four years, making the grade but waiting for an opening at the station.

If you're doing the math, the new recruits still leave five people missing off the streets.  The department is covering that with overtime.  And even with that it's going to take one more recruit class and getting another grant to consider the department whole, with no risk of brown outs.

Use of overtime this winter to fill gaps has been widespread because winter is a dangerous time for fires and response time is slow in snow and ice.  Ten of the recruits are legacy fire fighters, having a family member in the department.

City council still has to approve all the final plans for the department.  That talk is expected to being next week.




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