Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Perrysburg fire union leader asks council's help to change staffing levels

The head of the Perrysburg firefighters union sought help Monday from a City Council service-safety committee to reverse a city administration decision to lower minimum staffing for the fire department.

Fire Chief Jeff Klein imposed a four-person minimum staffing level recently, down from the regular five-person level, to try to save money on overtime. The department  had been exceeding its budget because of the overtime from the‍ staffing. The department similarly reduced the staffing a year ago in the summer for the same reason.

But Pete Scarborough, union president, presented his case to the committee on Monday that the four-person minimum staffing at the fire station is dangerous and not in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards. When a fire call comes in, now two firefighters are a fire truck and two are in an emergency medical vehicle. The NFPA standards, he said, call for four staff members just on a fire truck.

Committee Chairman Jim Matuszak explained how the panel had no authority to act on the union‘s request, noting the decision is made by the city administration. He asked Mr. Scarborough to talk to the administration, but the union leader said he isn‘t permitted by policy to do so except for labor negotiations.‍

Mr. Scarborough said he talks to Mr. Klein only about firefighting and did not expect talking about the staffing levels would be fruitful. Instead, he wanted to educate council members and ask them to talk to the administration.

“We can talk to the administration,” said John Kevern, council president. “Personally, I feel you do have an argument.”

Mr. Matuszak said he would try to resolve the issue.

Contact Matt Thompson at:, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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