City Manager's Office Works to Put Out Fire Over DFR Workers' Concerns About Changes

Categories: City Hall
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On Wednesday, two Dallas Fire-Rescue workers told Mayor Mike and the rest of the council that two proposals in the city manager's budget were "a disaster in the making." They take issue with Mary Suhm's proposal to alter and reduce shifts for dispatchers, which Suhm says will save around $1 million in overtime pay, and to mothball a fire truck. The latter suggestion stems from a review of where fire trucks are parked at present and the number of calls stations receive on average, the first such look-see in almost 25 years, Suhm says. According to the city manager, the review reveals that a shuffle of trucks -- and fire fighters -- is in order, and that the city can do without the one engine, which will serve as a back-up if and when another needs a repair.

I reached Suhm at week's end to address their concerns, and she has no interest in getting into a back-and-forth with the firefighters, who have been meeting with council members and First Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez. Suhm says she too has had "some conversations" with their reps, and will leave it at that. Last night, matter of fact, we received word that members of a group called Dallas Fire Rescue Associations Stand United will take their fight directly to City Hall with a protest scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the plaza. Said the release:
Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm has proposed severe budget cuts to Dallas Fire Rescue that will place the citizens of Dallas in danger if these budget cuts are approved by the Dallas City Council. The City Manager has proposed the removal a Fire Truck and understaffing Fire Dispatch. Removal of a ladder truck will delay the response time to numerous council districts and understaffing Fire Dispatch will cause a severe increase in the time people will be on hold to receive emergency assistance.
Regarding the changes at dispatch, Suhm says that right now, dispatchers work every fourth day on a 24-hour shift, and that the new proposal would have them work four 12-hour days, with three days off a week. The shorter shift, says Suhm, "has less required break hours, which drives less overtime." (This morning, when the council takes up the subject of budget amendments, Sheffie Kadane will propose leaving the schedule as-is.)

As for moving those trucks, Suhm says "the geography of the city has changed a lot in 25 years," and that "moving a few trucks will bring better response time." She then adds: "I'm not going to recommend something that jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of Dallas."

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23 comments
Dawn2663
Dawn2663

My dad was a Dallas Firefighter for over 40 years and what Mary Suhm is reccommending is dangerous and a disservice to Dallas residents. I feel that it's time for a new City Manager. I also believe that the City Manager should be an elected position just like the Mayor, Governor, City Council members, etc.Someone with so much power over the city should be elected (seems to me that the City Manager has more power than the Mayor). The Dallas residents should have a say in who the City Manager is.

Mikal214
Mikal214

Check out the petition to save the 2 Oak Cliff trucks at http://www.petitiononline.com/...

As a consolation prize, the boat at the Joe Pool Lake station will be moved to Station 26 where the truck was parked.... really.  

This is one of the oldest - and most wooden - parts of the city with the highest concentration of historic and conservation districts.  This is unacceptable. 

Old Smoke Eater
Old Smoke Eater

Old Smoke Eater.I am retired from the Dallas Fire Department with over 40 years of service, over half of my career as a station Caption. When I read and hear about putting fire apparatus out of service and changing up the hours that fire dispatchers work it makes me wonder what the hell are our city fathers,( or mothers), in Mary Suhms case thinking?????? If it aint broke don't fix it!!!!! Taking any piece of equipment out of service is irresponsible and shortchanging the citizens who pay good tax money for fire protection. As for Dallas Fire Dispatch, if you will do your home work you will find that it is the most efficient fire dispatch center in the country ( most calls handled per dispatcher). Changing their shifts will place fewer call takers on duty at any given time, thus increasing each dispatchers call volume and that will increase the actual time it takes to dispatch the call to the fire stations. I dont think the citizens of Dallas will be happy with the end result of this plan. 

Marvin
Marvin

Regarding the changes at dispatch, Suhm says that right now, dispatchers work every fourth day on a 24-hour shift, and that the new proposal would have them work four 12-hour days, with three days off a week. 

Why do the dispatchers work such weird hours?  It seems like a bad idea both money and safety wise.  

guest
guest

And don't forget the millions the city is paying to fight the lawsuit against the chief that Ms. Suhm hired.

Ray
Ray

She then adds: "I'm not going to recommend something that jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of Dallas."

Mary, you already did that. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Bryan Howell
Bryan Howell

The City (read: Mary Suhm) is essentially covering her butt by citing the "25 year survey" concept.  She is attempting to hit an arbitrary dollar savings to meet the budget criteria that lies before her.

I find it appalling that she's willing to do this at the sake of public safety.  Completely unacceptable.  This process started by looking at a station over in Mr. Caraway's district.  His reply was an emphatic "Not in my district", and so they moved on the Station 11 over in uptown.  They got flack over there, so now we're looking at stations #26 and #15.

This process is a COMPLETE FARCE!

There are (22) Ladder trucks at DFR.  Of those (22) only (5) are located in Oak Cliff.  Half the population of the City of Dallas lives in the Southern Sector.  Again, the Southern Sector is under served when it comes to City resources.

I live 2 blocks away from one of these stations. There is NO study that will show me how my home will be better served by a response time that is 3-5 minutes longer.  This is one hell of an ugly pig that Suhm, et. al, are putting a LOT of lipstick on and trying to pass off as a "plan".

What REALLY pisses me (us) off down here, is that we have two newly elected City Council members who between them don't seem to have the cajones to put their feet down and stop this foolishness.

I understand the need to tighten the belt at City Hall.  We've all made compromises.  Just like during the last budget cycle when given the option, our Firefighters took (48) furlough hours (read: unpaid time off) in lieu of a tax increase on property owners.  City Hall took the (48) hour offer from DRF AND THEN THEY RAISED OUR TAXES ANYWAY!

I hope our incumbent elected officials don't have hopes of being re-elected.  If this sort of game playing with public safety is their idea of effective leadership, we don't need it/them.

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal Lecter

Once in a blue moon the city actually tries to do something the right way and re-allocate resources in logical manner based on the facts, and everyone gets their panties in a wad.

If you want to know why this city has gone so far downhill over the past 25 years just look in the mirror.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Again, Suhm lacks common sense running the cities business, especially when it comes to first responders, which we all have a stake in. It's another reason we need strong mayor in Dallas to take care of these tough decisions instead of deligating to a group of people who are just way too petty for their own good (see: Caraway, Dwane)

Community Leader
Community Leader

I and several others spent the afternoon getting educated on DFR trucks and truck ladders. I believe as others do to disengage any truck,  truck Ladder is a disaster waiting to happen, what if the high rise buildings downtown dallas has a fire what if a high rise apartment catches on fire, what if a terroristic threat happens again and is not stopped ? Do we have to experience all that before TRUCK LADDER 19 stays in place?PLEASE SAVE TRUCK LADDER 19 AND LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS TO GET TO DOWNTOWNTOWN DALLAS A QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

Granny
Granny

In our neighborhood, Station 26 will be moved. Equipment (including a ladder truck that carries the Jaws of LIfe) AND personnel. 

There's a rumor that equipment and personnel were going to be moved from a Fire Station in Caraway's District, and he threw a hissy fit. SO a decision was made to move equipment and personnel from Station 26 instead, to placate Caraway.Does anyone know if this is true? 

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

"I'm not going to recommend something that jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of Dallas".  I'm sure Schutze can PROVE otherwise.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

[As for moving those trucks, Suhm says "the geography of the city has changed a lot in 25 years," and that "moving a few trucks will bring better response time."]

Yes it has, so why is she planning to remove Truck 11 from Station 11 on Cedar Springs, which serves the fastest growing area in Dallas over the last ten years (Uptown/Oak Lawn)? According to the most recent statistics I was able to access, Station 11 is one of the busiest in the City of Dallas.

https://www.facebook.com/SaveD...

Dawn2663
Dawn2663

From: Dawn2663----You probably new my dad. He retired as a Battalion Chief in the 1980's. We lost him in 2008, but I know he would not be proud that everytime Mary Suhm needs to "balance" the budget, she attacks the Dallas Police and Fire Department. She doesn't care about protecting the citizens or she would leave the one' s putting their lives at stake alone. How can we make the City Manager an elected position so that they ultimately answer to the Dallas citizens? Maybe she (or her replacement) would think twice before making such dangerous decisions if they knew their job was on the line.

 mick
mick

Old Smoke Eater.

They have been told (council, manager and mayor) Wednesday the public will get the complete story from us,  At first it was about the schedule but Suhm veiled the fact that she is wanting to cut minimum staffing and we as a group are not gonna stand by and allow her to endanger the  citizens,  Russian Roulette is the game she wants to play ....   the circus is back in town 

Dragonfighter
Dragonfighter

The communications personnel work 24 hours on and 72 hours off for a number of reasons.  This was arrived at over 20 years ago when 3x8hrs, 10/14 and 12/12 were all tried and were untenable from a logistics and financial standpoint.  Houston FD communications is moving to a 24/72 schedule expecting a 1.8 million dollar savings in overtime alone.

Also, DFR communications is staffed by certified firefighters many of which have many years as paramedics also.  The 24 hour schedule solves a myriad of continuity, logistic and management problems.  This is often lost on those unfamiliar with what they do and that includes Mary Suhm.

mick
mick

The City paid for a study called "Berkshire" and the study had all types of recommendations for change. The one finding in the study stated leave Fire Dispatch the way it is.  The most efficient system is in place, at this very moment Houston Fire is changing back to a 24 hour shift for their Fire Dispatch.  Their numbers indicated over $800,000.00 in savings (OT)  from moving away with the 12 hour shifts. 

The CM office has a new bean counter (former Dallas Police Officer) that is ready to change the world.

sparky
sparky

that would be 2.75 million for the lawsuit against Burns.  

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal Lecter

As in recent mayor Dwane Caraway? You want a strong mayor because you don't like the guy who was just mayor? Interesting logic....

SaveLADDER19
SaveLADDER19

Community Leader ~ Keep up the good work!  Citizens it's up to us to make a difference.   The City must explore other alternate solutions before making decisions without knowing the facts. Lets support our local heroes and their equipment.  Truck Ladder 19 belongs in its current home. Contact your local Council member and State Representative and let them know how you feel!

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal Lecter

"what if the high rise buildings downtown dallas has a fire what if a high rise apartment catches on fire"

If it's a high-rise, then a ladder truck really won't make much difference since they only reach up to about the seventh floor.

sparky
sparky

Caraway told the guys at 23 station that his truck would not be moved.  26 station is now scheduled to be moved to 52 station on Cockrell Hill Rd south of Illinois. The part that is hard to figure is they are hiring 200 new firefighters but yet they are putting a truck out of service.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I had a good laugh from that comment, as well.

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