The Scotia Fire Department contract is again causing conflict among the trustees and mayor. Mayor Kris Kastberg presented a proposal to the board of trustees at the Wednesday, Sept. 12, meeting, asking trustees to approve the hiring of two professional firefighters. There are currently 10 full-time firefighters in the department.
The proposal was tabled after questions about the necessity of the two additional men as well as specifics in the contract.
Trustee Armon Benny said the village went to a three-man shift in 2003. Benny said the reasons for the shift change were a combination of overtime, safety and National Firefighter Protection Association, or NFPA, standards. Benny said even adding two additional professional firefighters would bring the number of men up to the NFPA standards; however, Benny said the model has not worked for the village during the past four years. According to Benny's calculations, it would take 14.5 professional firefighters to have this model be successful. Benny said last year, 82 percent of the time only two professional firefighters were on duty at a time.
Between resignations, vacations and sick time, and human resources days, we still come up short with the 12-man model. It's very difficult to accommodate the sick time, said Benny.
Benny said that the main reason that the current 10-man model is a concern is the excessive overtime being paid out. He said the safety of the firefighters and the village residents is always the No. 1 priority for village officials, although he believes that the 12-person model does not necessarily improve the safety of the village.
"I believe there is a better way that we can have shifts and make better use of our great volunteer support. There is a better, more economical model. We just need to research and examine what that may be," said Benny.