Nearly $2.5 million carved out of Birmingham budget for fire department staffing

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:19 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced the city will use part of a $81 million surplus in the city’s budget to boost up Birmingham Fire Department’s staffing.

It’s set to be 37 new positions for nearly $2.5 million. Birmingham fire members tell WBRC that these 37 positions from the city are actually being returned to the department. They were unfilled a few years ago and cut in the budget, but officials said that getting them budgeted back will make a big difference in response, morale and safety.

“It’s a big help, a huge help,” Birmingham Firefighters Association Local 117 President, Stephen Cook, said. “20 of them are promoted positions. They are apparatus operators or sergeants, so that will give them the opportunity to test for promotion and fill those positions. But, we still need more paramedics. Of those 37, seven are specifically dedicated to paramedic numbers.”

With 20 current members now set to be promoted, Cook said that means they have to fill those 20 positions, Plus, 17 of the other new positions from the Mayor.

The department also just had about 40 new recruits start. Cook said they also have nearly 40 more in school right now.

“Things seem to be getting a little bit better as far as the number of applicants and issues like that,” Cook said. “The cost of living adjustment from today will also make things more attractive to new recruits.”

Cook said these positions were needed for the department to keep up with regulations and improve efficiency.

“Brining those back, it was a necessity, we have to have those people,” he said. “The standard is four or five on an apparatus. We have been making things work with three on an apparatus, but this gives us an extra firefighter on many apparatus. Anytime there are more people in the field, we can be more efficient.”

Cook said the latest positions are already boosting morale around the department.

“It also gives guys the ability to use their earned leave,” he said. “We have not been able to use earned leave it a long time, just because there aren’t enough people.”

Cook said it will still be a while before these positions from Mayor Woodfin are filled. It can take anywhere from one to six months, depending on certifications.

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