Already this year, the Jersey City Fire Department has used all its budgeted overtime funds, roughly $2.6 million, due to what the administration has called “inefficient staffing,” particularly among the department’s captains.
The administration said Wednesday that the restructuring will save between $750,000 and $1 million.
The Fire Department currently has 22 companies that had been divided among four battalions. The number of battalions will now be reduced to three, a move Mayor Fulop said should have been done under the previous administration of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy when Healy cut the number of companies from 32 to 22.
“The city has been paying far too much in overtime costs for the Fire Department, the majority of which has been a result of inefficient staffing,” said Director Shea. “This measure will allow us to reassign fire captains, thereby eliminating much of the overtime and increasing the safety of our residents. The upgrade of the position of safety officer will also enhance the safety of our firefighters.”
The reorganization will result in additional fire captains being available on all four of the department’s tours, reducing the need for overtime at the captain rank, according to the Fulop administration. In addition, four of the department’s battalion chiefs will now serve as safety officers, a position previously staffed by captains.
“Our goal is to significantly cut overtime while also adding more companies weekly to increase fire protection,” Fulop said in a release issued Wednesday. “We are reorganizing the command structure to redeploy personnel to enhance public safety, increase efficiency and reduce costs…The union will not like these changes. We understand that. But…we are committed to increasing public safety for all of our residents and having city government work as efficiently as possible.”