Englewood began the process to hire and train six new firefighters early to fill three existing vacancies and to replace retiring firefighters to meet staffing levels in a move that could produce savings of about $148,000.
Mike Pattrozzi, Englewood fire chief, explained the request to hire five firefighters at the April 9 city council study session. He returned to the council April 16 asking to increase firefighter hiring to six because of an unexpected retirement announcement. The council gave the go-ahead for the six hirings.
To meet provide fire protection for the city , the department has 51 firefighters plus four firefighter administrators, a chief, deputy chief, training chief and a emergency medical technician coordinator. The Englewood Fire Department ideal staffing is 17 per shift and minimum staffing is 14 per shift.
Chief Pattrozzi told the council there currently is three unfilled department vacancies, two from 2011 and one from this spring and the original plans were to hire replacements in May.
“But we changed our plans because we also have two firefighters who are completing deferred retirement and will be leaving the department in July or August,” the chief told the city council April 9. “Our request is to allow us to do all the hiring at one time as a way to save the city some money.”
Pattrozzi said an initial savings will be in the cost of putting new firefighters go through a three-week orientation and skills evaluation program. Hiring firefighters in May and additional firefighters at the end of the summer would require two orientation programs. However, hiring all the firefighters at one time means one orientation program instead of two which would save about $15,000.
While hiring two firefighters in May instead of waiting until the late summer retirements will cost an extra $43,000 in salaries and benefits.
However, the city has already saved about $58,000 because the three existing vacancies were not filled until May.
Pattrozzi told the council hiring six firefighters now will be a big help this summer.
“Meeting staffing demands in the summer traditionally requires paying overtime because people are on vacation,” the chief said. “We feel hiring the firefighters in May will reduce overtime requirements and could save the city an additional $75,000.”