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Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Plus one: Ann Arbor City Council agrees to increase fire department staffing level to 86 FTEs

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council followed City Administrator Steve Powers' advice Thursday night and increased the fire department's authorized staffing level by one position.

The vote was 10-0 with Sandi Smith absent.

The city recently filled six vacancies in the fire department, bringing staffing up to 85 full-time employees, the level approved by the City Council in August.

Through the hiring process, Powers said, the city identified seven qualified candidates, and so Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard and Safety Services Administrator John Seto asked that the fire department's authorized staffing level be increased by one more position — up to 86 FTEs.


The Ann Arbor Fire Department, which just filled six full-time vacancies, will be able to add another full-time position, bringing staffing up to 86 FTEs.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Increasing the full-time staffing level to 86 FTEs is beneficial to the city," Powers told council, suggesting one more firefighter will help better manage overtime and staff the department.

For the remainder of the budget year, which ends June 30, the estimated expense of one additional firefighter is $50,000. Powers said funding is available in the general fund since the city is anticipating higher-than-budgeted revenue from the state's Economic Vitality Incentive Program.

The estimated cost in fiscal year 2013-14 is $82,000. Powers said the city's staff is preparing next year's budget and will incorporate that expense.

The resolution to increase staffing in the fire department was sponsored by Mayor John Hieftje and Council Members Marcia Higgins, Jane Lumm and Christopher Taylor.

Lumm ran for council last year on a campaign platform that called for increasing staffing in both police and fire departments. During her campaign, she noted more than a third of the staffing in both departments had been cut over the past decade. The fire department had 131 FTEs in 2001.

The city is still evaluating the fire chief's proposal from earlier this year to reorganize the fire department and close stations — going from five to three stations. Given the department's limited staffing resources, Hubbard believes consolidating resources makes sense.

Hubbard said in the city's last budget process he ideally would like to get the fire department's staffing up to a "magic number" of 88 FTEs.

The city actually started the fiscal year with 82 FTEs budgeted for the fire department. That went up to 85 after the city secured a $642,294 federal grant that allowed hiring three more firefighters.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Glad to see progress.....


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Public safety is at the core of the mission of local government. Only when we provide adequate police, fire, and emergency services and provide basic infrastructure (ie. pave the roads, deliver clean water, etc.) should we then talk about anything else. It is not clear that Ann Arbor passes the emergency services test. This is one, very small step forward, but note that the Mayor expects that retirements in the Spring will reduce the number back down again. One step forward, one step back....


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

So why consolidate stations if the city is willing to staff 4 at every station? Not sure why the city is still entertaining that option especially after input from the residents.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Input from residents? All 10 of them that showed up to the meetings?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

How about cutting the art program to 0 and usinging that money for cops and firemen?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Especially now that the voters have given council unambiguous direction about the publicly-funded art.

Linda Peck

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Thank you Mayor and City Council for hearing our pleas and responding in a rationale way. This is money well spent.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

excellent! this is a great step in the right direction.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I'm glad they're boosting the number of firefighters. The recent performance figures had showed that Ann Arbor was definitely slipping below comparative cities' averages.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Why are we sending taxes to the Federal government that they then send back to us for local needs? Wouldn't it make more sense for efficiency and responsiveness to reduce the Federal tax rate and increase the local levy?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Oh yeah, that'll go over with local taxpayers - about as much as a new, $65 million library. Ho-ho!

Albert Howard

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Unanimous vote. That's good.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

Excellent, moving in the right direction! Can we please have two more FTEs and staff 88 firefighters, the chief's magic number? Consolidating from five fire stations to three is a bad idea and I urge the new and continuing members of city council to make that explicitly clear to the Mayor and our City Manager!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Is this enough to provide safety to the citizens of AA.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

"The fire department had 131 FTEs in 2001." One? Wow...we can all sleep soundly tonight with this major increase in staff.