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Posted on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

19 Ann Arbor firefighters, 9 police officers facing layoffs

By Ryan J. Stanton

Just three weeks after agreeing to voluntary concessions that included a 4 percent reduction in compensation, Ann Arbor firefighters could be taking another hit.

Members of the firefighters union have been informed the city is looking at laying off 19 firefighters starting in July and eliminating another vacant position. That's six more positions than were previously slated to be cut.

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The hats of three firefighters who were facing layoffs last month sit on a truck at Station 4 in Ann Arbor. Their jobs may be back on the chopping block.

Another 17 positions in the police department also face elimination in an effort to trim $1.98 million from what was projected to be a $26.5 million budget for the department in the next fiscal year. That includes laying off nine sworn police officers, seven positions within the community standards division and one management assistant.

With 13 firefighters' jobs on the chopping block last month, the union agreed to voluntary pay cuts to avoid layoffs through July. But they had no guarantee of what would happen after that grace period ended.

"I'm at a loss to understand it," said Craig Ferris, a lieutenant with the fire department. "I just don't know how we can make the efforts that we made and the sacrifice that we made, and then to hear this. It doesn't make sense. That's like doing a guy a favor and having him come back and hit you with a baseball bat."

Ann Arbor City Council members were provided a series of budget impact sheets tonight in preparation for a working session scheduled for Monday night. The reports show city staff's proposed plans for trimming 7.5 percent from the budgets of every service area in the city, with public safety being no exception.

Police Chief Barnett Jones, the city's safety services administrator, said the City Council ultimately will decide how to handle the defiict the city is facing.

"We're beginning a process where we have to meet a target number," he said, noting personnel costs represent about 80 percent of the budgets within public safety. "To meet those target numbers, it will require us to get into personnel because there's nothing else. It's a very lean operation."

Jones said the police department currently has 123 officers, while the fire department has 94 firefighters counting the chief and two management assistants.

The budget sheets show cuts already implemented this year, cuts already scheduled to take effect in July, and what would happen if the recommendations for the additional 7.5 percent reductions took effect.

The fire department has a $13.3 million projected budget for the next fiscal year after having already made $677,678 in cuts this year.

The layoff of 13 firefighters and elimination of one vacant position still are scheduled to take effect in July, which will save nearly $1.4 million. Additionally, another six firefighters could be laid off - for a total elimination of 20 firefighter positions in July. The additional cuts would save another $997,445.

"This will result in the closing of fire substations, resulting in increased response times due to crews responding from the remaining fire districts," the budget sheet prepared by city staff reads. "Service reduction may impact regional response agreement talks and may void response agreement draft with Ypsilanti."

The staff analysis also states the cuts would take daily staffing levels below national standards to effectively and safely fight an average sized home fire and may raise insurance rates.

Matt Schroeder, president of the Local 693 firefighters union, said firefighters are taking the news hard.

"We were hopeful coming out of the contract and looked to work to problem-solve these issues, but I don't think they're being fairly represented by the city right now," he said, adding that firefighters feel like city officials haven't been forthcoming with budget information. Firefighters also question why city officials are spending tens of millions of dollars on capital projects such as a new police-courts building.

"It just seems like we're trying to make up for their mistakes," Schroeder said.

Ferris said he doesn't understand how the number of firefighters facing layoff has grown to 19 seemingly overnight.

"It just seems unbelievable that this is what they're going to ask for now," he said. "We're making an effort, we're doing so much more with so fewer people than we ever have before, and now we're doing it for less pay, and we did it to save jobs and keep the city safe. And instead of coming back and saying 'thanks for your effort,' (the city administrator) comes back saying we're going to lay off 19 people."

Firefighters say they're disheartened they're being asked to dig further into their pockets when City Administrator Roger Fraser and other top city administrators still haven't agreed to any pay cuts themselves. However, some members of the Ann Arbor City Council did agree to a 3 percent pay cut for themselves last month.

The firefighters union has reached out to the University of Michigan's Board of Regents to discuss the plight of the fire department. Firefighters are hopeful the university, which doesn't pay taxes to the city but receives city services, will agree to help cover its share of costs for fire protection in the city.

Schroeder said the fire department already struggles to meet national standards, which state that the first company (a truck with three firefighters) should arrive on the scene within four minutes and a full alarm assignment (15 to 17 people, depending on the need for an aerial apparatus) should arrive within eight minutes.

"We're minimally meeting those standards right now, but if we're going to lose companies and those numbers of apparatus, we would be below it," Schroeder said. "That's why we fought so hard to maintain our staffing through July, at least. We already are thin."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Tue, Feb 9, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

@veritasA2, great post, bringing up the real issue here which is the City of A2 and the taxpayer's are going broke and money must be saved. I understand the union's are upset that the good times are over but they are. I also understand that the unions are upset that city admin has not given up more. What I as a taxpayer am upset about is having to fund pensions that allow someone the ability to retire at 52 years of age and live off my dime for the next 40 or 50 years till they die. None of us in the private sector have the "gold plated" benefits and retirement packages that these unions have. Average pay in the private sector is down 12% over the past 3 years. My paycut is closer to 17% and I don't have the luxury of any easy life anymore. My issue--my problem. Now raising my taxes to pay for the deficit is my problem and I will vote NO because I cannot afford it. We need firefighters, we need police and we need schoolteachers and schools but we need those employed by our taxes to face reality and share in the pain. The bottom line is this for state/city employees both union and non union. If you care about us, those that pay your salaries/pensions and healthcare and want to keep us safe, take reasonable cuts to your pensions, your pay and your healthcare and not a single one of you will have to be laid off or lose your job. On top of that, with no loses in the number of police and firefighters, the residents will be kept safe, you all will still have jobs. It is a win-win for everyone. Take 10% across the board, pay/pension/healthcare and no one loses their jobs. It may mean that you won't be able to take those nice vacations or buy that new car every 3 years like you are used to but life isn't so bad. I get buy without those luxuries now and I am none the less happy.

Eric P

Tue, Feb 9, 2010 : 5:09 p.m.

I gotta wonder how much more money AAPD could bring in by ticketing smokers, Minor's in Possession, and noise violations? Also anyone in the FD or PD with over 20 years let them go to 4/3 time, saving the city the cost of their overtime hours. A reserve pool for both departments would not only save money, but could act as a recruitment tool when opening come in both department. Lastly, there is no reason that AAPD and U of M DPS can't work out using more of the same facilities for their motor pools, evidence control and records units. Saving money on suitabilities and cleaning, and being in closer proximity to each other and therefore better able to assist each other.

Karen Sidney

Mon, Feb 8, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

Ryan The FY 09 fund balance is within the range set by council but below the level recommended by the city's outside auditor. At the December audit committee meeting, the city staff member in charge of overseeing the audit, said that the 8.4 million general fund deficit was primarily the result of the police early retirement program. Fund balance recommendations are established based on what percent of general fund expenses should be held in reserve. The auditor recommends reserves of at least 15% of expenses. I believe the city's policy recommends at least 12%


Mon, Feb 8, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

We need to focus on the real issue and dig deeper. Read the unions' contracts between the City and its SEVEN unions. All these union's negotiated "juicy" contracts years before today's leadership team. Management efforts to realign these contracts to today's realities have been fruitless to say the least. To appease council and the public the salaried employees take reductions in wages and benefits (with no representation) leading people to believe that the union's are equally impacted, not. What's impacting the bottom line are the compensation packages these union folks are receiving annually, a sum far above the private industry. In fact, the City provided all employees a Total Compensation Summary for FY 2009. You might be surprised how much an administrative support specialist is making. Consider all the fringes such as uniforms/clothing, paid training, overtime/comptime, paid time off, promotional and progession/step increases, etc. Take a closer look and get informed before choosing layoffs, a city tax, outsourcing, closing parks/facilities. Stand behind the City's leadership team by forcing these union to re-open their contracts and take real concessions that impact the bottom line! 1. International Association of Fire Fighters Local 693 2. Command Officers Association of Michigan A2 Police Sergeants/Lieutenants 3. A2 Police Officers Association for Community Services Assistants/Professional Service Assistants 4. Teamsters Local 214 - PD Professional Assistants 5. Teamsters Local 214 - Police Deputy Chiefs Unit 6. AFSCME Local 369 - 7. Teamsters Local 214 - Civilian Supervisors


Mon, Feb 8, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

I'm sure you can find a negative article about any profession - volunteer or otherwise. How about this article regarding a Fire Chief who showed up to a fire drunk. The fire resulted in the home-owner dying - who knows what impact having a drunk chief on the job had on the result. From a couple weeks ago... Should I assume from the article that we can't trust professional fire-men? Of course not. As, from the above article posted about volunteer departments - we shouldn't dismiss volunteer firemen because of it. People will make mistakes in any profession - volunteer or not. At least - in the case of the Texas story regarding the volunteers - people didn't die.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 11:34 p.m.

@irritated: Correct, Superior has 3 full-time ffs on duty each day. However, they rely heavily on off duty full-time ffs (not volunteers) to respond to each call. For clarification of staffing levels in the county, the following use full-time firefighters: AAFD, YTFD, YFD. The next set are departments that are considered "combination": Saline, Dexter, Pittsfield, Superior, Scio, Chelsea, and Ann Arbor Twp. (Superior and Pittsfield have been moving away from volunteer/paid-on-call ffs lately though). Only Salem, Northfield and Augusta are completely volunteer/pain-on-call


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Ronaldduck I did some checking and FYI Superior twp has 3 full time FF on duty each day the rest are paid on call


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 5:09 p.m.

sjfinest it takes time for a transport medical service to make money, ann arbor has an immediate financial need, also you dont need to concern yorself with Firefighters in ann arbor or any of the surrounding twps not showing up for fires or any other emergencies. By the way why do you keep talking about volunteer depts? Ann Arbor has yet to say anything about turning the fire dept into volunteers, they are just triming the fat.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

From the link about the Tx fire department that failed to respond to a fire: "He says he does not know why not a single firefighter responded, but he also says the word volunteer means just that. "You can't make people be some place," Hamilton said. That brings little comfort to Anderson, whose dream house went up in smoke." That was true were I used to live. If a young person is with a bunch of friends drinking, or otherwise occupied, they may not hear the beeper or care. By contrast, professional firefighters are trained workers with a job and a contract to abide by. Would you like an ER to be staffed by volunteers who can just not show up when you have a heart attack or accident? Same difference. Anyway, the city of Ann Arbor is only considering cutbacks, not even amateurs. The Mayor and City Council think a new building for themselves with a foreign sculpture/fountain benefits the people of A2 more than fire and police protection. Go figure.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

RonaldDuck: what an article! Like I said before, I do not fault the men and women of voluteer fire departments, it's just a failing operation waiting to happen out of the gates. Sometimes they get lucky, but most times, as with paid on call fire departments as well, by the time they actually get there in the capacity to START surpression, the fire is so far gone, and any life and property are far past salvagable. It is such a slap in the face to me when I hear "well, fires don't happen everyday, and people don't call 911 all the time". A full time FD is an insurance policy. I have full coverage on my Chevy, but I don't go and crash her everyday. You pay an FD to be ready to fight fire and care for the sick in less than a moments notice. Through rigerous training and continuing education in fire tactics and medical advances. Giving back to the communities we serve through education in fire prevention and CPR, through our charity fundraisers, through donations to local burn centers, the Muscular Dystrophy Association for children, and providing uniforms for a local little league team and softball team. I know Union Police officers are very active in the communities they serve. These are the things we do that are not on our job descriptions, but, it's a sense that we owe it to those we serve. I hang my hat on these things, makes me very proud and ecstatic to come to work everyday.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.

For those of you who think a volunteer fire dept is a good idea check out the story at the following url. It's about the Fresno TX fire dept. They had a fire in January and nobody showed up and the house burned to the ground before another fire dept. arrived. In case you haven't figured it out yet I am a full time firefighter but I also have been a volunteer in the past. I have personally seen fires where all the firefighters went directly to scene, because it was closer than the station, and we had to then drive to the station and get the trucks before we could fight the fire. The first fire I ever went to as a brand new firefighter was a grass fire that only myself and one other guy showed up to. I went to fatal car accident by myself once until the ambulance arrived. These kinds of things just don't happen with full time depts. By the way Superior Twp has a full time fire dept. with no volunteers.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 1:26 a.m.

@Karen The $89.2 million figure for general fund revenues and expenditures in 2008-09 were the figures presented to the City Council in December by administration. It appears upon closer examination those were the figures when the budget was first adopted. You're right, though. It's misleading to use those numbers now, since they changed during the course of the year. I just took a look at the audit for 2008-09 and revenues actually were $79.1 million and expenditures were $83.9 million, a $4.8 million overrun. When you take a look at all city funds, revenues totaled $119.7 million, while expenses totaled $132.3 million, a $12.6 million overrun. The audit also shows the general fund's fund balance dropped from $19.8 million to $11.4 million from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009. I haven't heard any real discussion of the fund balance at any council meetings in the last six months, other than certain city officials opining that it's in good shape. That's quite the hit in one year, though.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 1:09 a.m.

No double dipping sir. Please read ALL the posts. It sounds like HVA may run different, however it seemed that way on the surface with all FOUR private ems agencies I worked for. Bottom line, employees are paid less than medics that work in an ER and have triple the reponsibilities. That is why private ems is a burn out waiting to happen. All the while, the CEOs make huge bucks, then slap non for profit because they put SOME money back into the company. I did it with 4 agencies, don't tell me that HVA can guarentee a 4 minute response. It is just NOT true. I one hundred percent respect you opinion, the point is, if there is a "budget shortfall", and ZERO city administrators have taken cuts, THAT is wrong. Look into transporting, and generate your own revenue, as our ambulances pay for nearly 3/4 of our departments entire budget! It seems like a no brainer that the city govt in A2 could be fat more creative with all this talk of expendatures on NEW buildings. I again would love to field questions and phone calls via email. I have nothing to hide, and I wish you the best.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 12:40 a.m.

A2 Firefighters knew when they took the 3% cut it would only protect jobs till June 30th, now they want to act surprised that the layoffs are still on the horizon. That 3% only saved the city approx $400K the deficit is 2.4 million. Ybecuz makes a good point if anyone needs more FF's its Ypsi City,and Ypsi Twp not A2. I would be willing to bet of the 250 fire calls A2 went on last year 10% were actual fires of any substance ( read there fire reports). It's true A2 had a lot more personnel years ago, but they were also a lot busier and operated with 2 man trucks, this I know from visiting the stations, and talking to them. People keep talking about cutting the Administrators pay well first of all that wont come close to the deficit number, and keep in mind they have a huge responsibility trying to run the city; Therefore they should be compensated for that, I wonder if you were the Administrator would you take a pay cut? ( Yeah right). Regardless of how many FF's A2 has they will be utilizing help from surrounding depts on the rare occassion a large fire breaks out, and dont worry about response times I'm sure that can be dealt with by restructuring there current style of operation. Firemen are no different than anyone else in the work force, they hate change... Isnt it amazing that A2 has more full time FF's than all the surounding depts combined yet they have fewer fires and serious emergencies. Perhaps it's time to consider Mr. Frasers idea of creating one county wide dept that way more FF's can be assigned to the busier areas like Ypsi and Ypsi twp?

Medicine Man

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

This is to SJFinest and Really? and any other Pro-Firefighter supporters... Trust me when I tell you, I understand the frustration of having your career(except SJFinest because you dont work in AA) and those of your co-workers in jeapordy due to budget constraints because I lost my job as a full time city employee along with 150 other police officers, firefighters and paramedics when my hometown decided to cut into public safety. Our union did a wonderful job of having our benefits paid in full by the city until we obtained other employment or we called back to duty. I didnt go back. I moved on. After reading the previous posts I am quite disheartened by your negativity and outright false claims about the current EMS and fire response model in Washtenaw county. First off, HVA requests AAFD only for medical calls that are deemed life threatening (Chest Pain, SOB/Asthma, Fall with injury, cardiac arrests, CVA, ect..) and yes others get triaged as life threatening and we all know when we arrive, they are not. 80% of EMS calls are not life threatening. Why do they do this, as previously asked?? Because you are MEDICAL FIRST RESPONDERS, key word FIRST!! You have satrigically placed stations which provide optimal coverage of your service area and chances are you will be closer to the medical emergency and be able to provide FIRST line interventions, assessment/oxygen/update EMS to severity or additional equipment needed, ect.. Thats what MEDICAL FIRST RESPONDERS DO!!!! You provide this service, not for HVA, but for your citizens who pay your salary with TAXES!! Now, due to budget constraints, AAFD and other county departments, now only run on life threating medical calls unless there will be a delay in ALS response, then you are requested to FIRST RESPOND to provide care and support until HVA arrives. Other than that, you are free to do your daily station duties and be at the ready for any potential fire related calls. So when it takes HVA 10-15minutes to respond Priorty 3 to a lift assist to a city resident who slipped out of a chair and needs help getting up, they will wait on the floor, while their tax supported FD down the street is in house doing station duties, until HVA arrives and helps them up, has the patient sign a treatment/refusal for transport form, and then goes back into service. This resident is not charged for this service. HVA only charges for transport of the patient or if the patient required medication(set rate for drug box) on scene and eventually refuses transport. HVA does charge for ambulance runs, they have to. When you see two, highly trained paramedics who provide potential ALS care on every call they go on, sitting idle on a street corner, waiting to be dispatched on thier next call, they are sitting there waiting at NO CHARGE to the community as HVA does not collect tax subsidies from the communities for which it provides service. SJFinest, you state you work for a 2.5 sq mi city which provides transport for its citizens (who pay taxes to subsidize your fire department) and you still charge them for the transport on top of that?? Sounds like double dipping!! Also, Non-Profit Service means that any money collected above operating costs goes back into the company to provide additional squads for coverage, new and improved equipment, new ambulances, ect.. Private ambulance means that someone needs to make a profit and to make a profit you need to cut the bottom line thus decreasing the level of care/service provided. You do as many calls as you can for minimum costs thus why you were paid $10.00hr and became burned out. I can go on but I will leave this for now (expecting rebuttal from those affected) and will respond accordingly. Please dont get me wrong, I support you 100% and wish none of you lose your jobs, but seriously, just be honest with yourselves and with fellow readers and posters and keep your negativity to a minumum towards those who are NOT directly involved in your cities current financial crisis. Blame those who waste taxpayer money. Until next time....


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:42 p.m.

I lived and worked in a community with a volunteer fire department. You just would count on having someone die if the person had a heart attack. The alarm /beepers went off, and people had to stop what they were doing, drive to the station, then get a truck and then get to the person's house or business, for an emergency, accident, fire, etc. The police were overworked and understaffed, so ditto for crime reports. But there wasn't that much crime, so the big problem was that the response time, even with the best intentions, for heart attacks and fires meant that nature just took its course. So people died and houses burned and that was just the way it was. the response time was just too long with even good volunteers. I was relieved when I moved to a city with good coverage for fire and police. Again, rework the entire city budget and stop these parking lots, conference centers, poorly-placed Section 8 housing projects, sculpture and anything beyond crucial services, and fund police and fire first. Cut administrators by 50% before those who actually perform services. And would someone who knows about budgets and management PLEASE run for office??? Let's impeach the whole current lot now of City Council and this mayor. They lack judgment.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

For those who want the firefighting factoids for Wash County. There are only 3 full-time, career depts in the county. Ann Arbor with approx 91 FF's, Ypsi City with 19 FF's and Ypsi Township with 33 FF's. Pittsfield is almost all career and is the only dept. which has increased it's ranks in the last decade. As far as fire protection, Ann Arbor and Ypsi City have approx 1 ff per 1200 residents. Ypsi Twp has 1 per 1600. With the current run loads, Ann Arbor has about 65 runs per FF per year. Ypsi City and Townships are about double that with 120 runs per FF per year. Ypsi Township runs the most fire calls in the county followed by Ypsi City, then A2. If you look at national numbers, these fall into the norm eg; Dade County FL runs about 300,000 runs per year, but with 2500 FF's this works out to approx 120 per FF. Ypsi Township by far provides the most bang for your buck when it comes to call volume, actual fires and the least staff per population.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

I made a typo, my top out pay is $54,500, my FIRST post said 45,500. Just for the sake of honesty.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

For the sake of honesty, I need to make a correction to my FIRST post, as I said that I will top out at $45,500. I mistyped, i will top out at $54,500. Just want to keep it honest.

Thomas Cook

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:17 p.m.

This is ridiculous. ALL the city needs to do is police the streets, put out the fires, pave the roads, delivery the water, and pick up the garbage (and even garbage collection can be privatized). Everything else is extra and yet our citizens and leaders follow Alice down the rabbit hole of Greenways and parks millages and greenbelts and civic art, etc etc. All wonderful things but they don't compare to arresting criminals and putting out fires. The first person to die of a heart attack because 28 first responders were let go... let's see the City Administrator or City Council at their funeral explaining why it happened. I see a Huron Valley Ambulance millage in our future.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:16 p.m.

AACity12, According to SEMCOG, there are about 49,200 housing units in the City of Ann Arbor, 47,300 of which are occupied. (If, on any given day as you suggest, there were a 2% chance that my Ann Arbor house was going to burn down, I'd be looking to live elsewhere.) Seriously, however, I'd like to see numbers that indicate how much money the public safety millage in Ann Arbor generates, and compare that to the expenditures for police and fire. Do those numbers match? Is the City subsidizing police and fire services because the millage no longer covers these expenses, or has the City siphoned off funds approved by the voters for public safety in order to pay for something else?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

I just want you all to be very mindful of the things you say about other people, what they do, and how they have chosen to become functioning members of our society. Remember, not to judge others, as hard as it may be, at least sit down and speak with them before making your assessments. Imagine, all this coming from a soon to be 25 year old. Also, for all the other firefighter/paramedics on here and police officers as well, as hard as it is to get punched in the mouth like this by opinions like that of "Belbez", try to be patient. Instead, try to properly educate him on what it is you all do day in and day out. I don't fault "Belbez" one hundred percent, i fault our governments for not making sure citizens know why it is that they staff fire departments and police departments with their tax dollars. That is the true shame here. God bless you guys, stay safe. I will be praying for you over here on the Eastside.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

"Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just 4 to 6 minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest can be reversed if it's treated within a few minutes with an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. This process is called defibrillation. A victim's chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation. Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes." This is your ultimate downfalls to the volunteer system on the fire and medical ends, respectfully. I apologize for this being so long winded. I guess I myself am personally hurt by hearing this. The truth is, most politicians don't even bother to sit down and discuss with Firefighter/paramedics and Police officers what it is they do everyday. I have been on my department for 2 years, not one council member has ever sat down with me and asked me how I like it, what its like, what I enjoy about it, nothing. Do you think they have taken a true interest in what it is WE do everyday? Their interest is in the bottom line. If I'd have known that this is how I would be treated, I'd have never stopped at my paramedic license and went right on through until I got my nursing degree, which I'm now in the process of doing.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:10 p.m.

Also, I want to touch on the concept of Volunteer Fire Departments. These departments may work in TINY, TINY communities, I'm talking less than 2,000 residents. Why? Here is the MAJOR downfall of these departments. This is not in anyway a smash at the men and women who chose to be on volunteer departments, more a smash at the concept and execution. Here is why. If you call 911 in my town, you will have an ambulance, or an engine, whichever it is you require, in LESS than 3 minutes. Time is massively important. I saw someone comment on how rapidly fire doubles in size, 30 to 60 seconds. This is very true. So, understand that if you live in a volunteer area, instead of your full time firefighters jumping into the engine or ladder truck and heading over to protect life and property with an aggressive interior attack after the alarm goes off, the volunteers have to jump into their personal vehicles, drive to the station, wait at the station for other volunteers to get their, jump in the engine or truck, drive to the scene and then begin fire attack. Sad to say, in the volunteer areas far north of Detroit, these response times average 10-15 minutes. In most cases, when the men and women finally get to the scene, they CAN NOT make an aggressive interior attack, and often find themselves standing around the house spraying water. This method will not quickly put any house fire out and certainly will not save lives, however, by the time they get to the scene, the fire is all too often RAGING out of control, and is senseless to even try to go inside. Why risk your life, FOR FREE?! Now, what happens if a fire happens in the dead of winter at night? These volunteers need to get out of their beds at home, go outside, scrape ice off their windows, then "race" to the station in terrible road conditions, and we all know fast driving is nearly impossible on Michigans snow covered roads. Now, what happens if you are having a medical emergency in a volunteer town? Same process, men taking their personal vehicles to the station, waiting for another, all too often, EMT basic, and then heading to your house. I mentioned the level of care, EMT basic. Why? EMT basics CAN NOT provide ANY advanced medical interventions. PARAMEDICS can put a breathing tube directly into your trachea to make you breath, start an IV and give life saving cardiac, diabetic, and even opiate reversing drugs, even decompress your chest if you have a collapsed lung so that your heart does not get squeezed into failure by leaking air into the chest cavity, all right there in the living room. In these volunteer towns, the men and women make it their in 10-15 minutes to then provide oxygen, an epi pen, and if in cardiac arrest, CPR and AED defibrilation. 10-15 minutes does not cut it in the worst possible scenario in medical emergencies...CARDIAC ARREST. This FACT is directly posted form the website, and reads as follows:


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:08 p.m.

This story is absolutely ridiculous and heartbreaking. I true testament to the corruption in our local governments. Cutting fire and police before cutting administrative positions. I will not be dishonest on here, I myself am a Union firefighter and paramedic for a suburban Detroit department. The thing that makes this disheartening is the fact that these "administrative" positions that have not yet taken cuts typically make FAR more than any firefighter/paramedic or police officer make. Example, I make $41,500 a year on salary and have been on the job for 2 years, toping out in 2 more years at $45,500. The city manager, who is in charge of making the city fiscally responsible, is THE 2nd HIGHEST PAID city manager in the state at $126,000 a year, yet, under his tenure, the City has move to number 3 on the recievership watch list, which would entail having an EMERGENCY FINANCIAL DIRECTOR come in and run the finances appointed by the State. Not to mention, he is one of only two City Managers in the State that have made it so he is going to get a pention, at 80% of $126,000 a year! Guys, that doesn't make sense. BELBEZ, I'd like to say something to you. I have no idea what it is that you have chosen to do to put food on the table for your family, but, God bless you and I hope you are doing well and continue to do so. However, I find it awfully disrespectful that you would judge what other men do on a whim. I was raised by my grandfather not to judge others on the jobs they do so long as they contribute to society, especially if YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT YOURSELF. Belbez, FIre Departments DO NOT ONLY FIGHT FIRES. You not having the knowledge of this is not your fault. City governments should showcase the work that their firefighter/paramedics and their police officers do. They do not, because, they are viewed as something they eventually have to pay for. Belbez, we are at the station, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We don't go home at 5pm. I wish we did, maybe I wouldn't miss birthdays, weddings, church, school, etc. The point is, being there 24 hours a day happens for a reason. It is not our job to sit and wait for a fire to happen, or for someone to start having chest pain and call 911. All the equipment, from the trucks and engines all the way to our rescue tools, our saws, our gear, our medical equipment, our air packs, just to name a few, yes, even our stations need to be maintained, by us. Making sure our tools work when we actually need them is far too late, yes peoples lives really our on the line. Also, when we are not on jobs or doing our checks and maintenance we are responsible for, EVERYDAY, we are training. That is the beauty of being a full time firefighter. We have to train a minimum of 2 hours a day, somedays, if able, 4 hours. 4 hours is often a stretch because fire and ems jobs don't stop coming in just because we are training.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

To Lynn and anyone else who wanted to read my first post. I found it on the clipboard! Oh man, was I ever heartbroken that I spent all that time writing this only for it to be deleted due to length! I hope that the web site starts using a character or word countdown like I suggested earlier, oh was i upset. Ha, well here it is. God bless.

Karen Sidney

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

Ryan I don't know what your source of city records showing the general fund budget for fiscal year 2008-09 balanced with revenues and expenditures equal to $89.2 million. If you look on pages 87 and 88 of the FY09 audit, you see the final budget and actual revenue and expenses for the general fund. The final revenue budget is 83.2 million and the final revenue is 79.1 million. The biggest reason for the drop is that the revenue from the $3 million sale of 1st and Washington never happened. That revenue was supposed to be used to help pay for the police/courts construction. If the property sale is not closed because the developer cannot get financing, the city will have to find a new source for the $3 million. The final budget for expenses is 87 million and final actual is 83.9 million. The FY09 expenses reflect the cost of the early retirement program for police. The amount budgeted was $6.7 million. I don't know what the actual cost turned out to be. Since there will be no early retirement cost in either the FY10 or the FY11 budget, and the city should have reduced expenses. because of the 26 people who retired, I'm not sure why such big cuts are needed

Paul the Malcontent

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 4:55 p.m.

Craig Ferris, a lieutenant with the fire department said, "That's like doing a guy a favor and having him come back and hit you with a baseball bat." And then not having a police officer available to respond to your 911 call!


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

Well, if you say there 280 actual fires in a building call per year I will take your word for it. Lets say there are 10,000 residences and buisness in the city. I just pulled that number out of thin air but I would say its a decent guess. That gives you a 1 in 50 chance that it will be your house. You also have to figure that number will increase with slower response times to car, porch and dumpster fires that could eventually spread to buildings. MY question to belboz is what of the 5700 other calls? Who will handle those? Who is going to help the ambulance carry people out of their homes? Would you have the man with chest pains walk to the ambulance putting firther strain on his heart? We pay top dollar in taxes here and should have top dollar services. I should have a fully staffed fire dept in case there is a fire. I should not have to walk to the ambulance the day I have a heart attack. I pay way to much in taxes for that. Find other places to make your cuts.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

Really?, thanks for your last comment. That should clear up the stats issue. How about this for a $ saving idea. No more auto accident reports unless someone is killed. The police should go only to clear the road, make sure no one is injured and give a ticket to who is at fault. Then leave. The accident report is just a freeby for insurance companies. Let them respond and do the report. Prop damage accidents take up an enormous amount of police time, mostly for the benefit of insurance companies. Also does anyone know anything about the layoffs of community standards division employees? What do they do? Parking ticket writers? Good luck trying to get a reduced police force to take on parking ticket writing.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

Medical emergencies are time sensitive. HVA may respond 'quickly' but not as quick as your local fire department. In Ann Arbor, HVA is usually quite close but I see them regularly showing up on scenes 5 to 10 minutes after the AAFD is there. In Ypsilanti HVA's response times are a lot longer. I do not want to depend on HVA. I want fire there to provide care while we wait for HVA to show up and to provide the basic skills while HVA does the advanced care. Regarding fire doing transport, good luck on getting licensed. A private company tried taking on HVA but HVA has a strangle hold on the process in this county.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Scooter... we do. Just an FYI. The FD presented Fraser with the idea of transporting since plenty of money is in a 'bucket' for trucks. A BLS rig costs far less than an Engine or Tower. It was shown that we could reduce the cost for residents that they pay HVA. The response... "The city council decided they didn't want to compete with HVA." So, kill your revenue potential and lay off your department. That's the council's alternative. If you were starving and I offered you a free meal, would you turn it down? City council needs to be voted out. But first, they pubically need to hear from residents, and then put the opportunity to make a good decision in their laps. Elections are coming.

scooter dog

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

Ann arbor needs to start charging for accidents/false alarms ect like other depts do


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:26 p.m.

I have some property in Northfield Township for sale. I bet Ann Arbor could find money to buy it from me and turn it into a park.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

Sorry for the quick follow up, but if A2 wants to start generating more revenue with their FD, staff them appropriately and START transporting. Is there a start up cost to this? Yes, but, I work for a 2.5 mile square City, we did 1,856 calls last year between EMS and Fire calls. We billed out just over a half a million dollars! That is all profit because we operate off of the General Fund as is! Imagine the revenue the FD could bring in for those "City Administrators" who have YET to even take a pay cut. Sounds lime the politics are backwards as is there, reading of the money being spent on new buildings and such. But, I digress, I need to do more homework on those stats than just take the word of others on here. Again, God bless.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

If the city of Ann Arbor wants to continue to considered a great place to live, it must adequately staff the poice and fire departments. Parents who send their children to the University most certainly will demand it.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

You all need to ask questions before making assesments. I can't believe how you all are judging. As in my first post, which was deleted to to length, yes, I'm a union firefighter and paramedic. However I have done it all. I have worked for private ems, I have worked along side volunteer or paid on call departments, and I have worked in the ED as a medic, and i have worked as a full time firefighter paramedic. I am going on the private ems model the is previlent in the suburban Detroit areas, you want yo know how that works??? They offer a "free service" to the City. Someone calls 911 for a medical emergency, Private ems has to FIND the closest ambulance and start sending them, meanwhile, paramedics from the fire department leave the station, almost always beating the ambulance there, using due regard when driving, I can't tell you how many days I spent scared to death while my partner did 70 mph down busy roads like Grosebeck. So, the FD starts care and the private company transports. Sounds great, except, if you are a non transporting department, YOU LOSE the revenue that is generated by transporting your own patients, ie not using a private company. Also, about that "free service" to the City, when HVA bills your insurance, and insurance doesn't pay out, or you don't have insurance, YOU foot the bill, the tax payer. In cities such as mine that transport their own patients, if a RESIDENT shows financial hardship and proof of it y to the City, the City will eat the bill. Why? Because you are the RESIDENT who pays the taxes! I saw someone earlier comment on how HVA went after every dollar for her Grandpas fall, no different from the private ems over here. On Troy, it is a joke at best. They do not provide any level of EMS care, a private company does, so they do not get to bill insurance. On fire surpression, a bigger joke. I got to watch them fight a house fire when on a clinical with the private ems company. We beat them there by 8 minutes. Then, when they got there, there was 2 minutes of interior operations before they pulle ld everyone out and watched it burn while spraying water from the outside. It is a terrible system guys. Average responses of 10-15 minutes vs 3-4 minutes of full time departments. It is the old saying, you get what you pay for. I am not trying to be a jerk here guys, it just breaks my heart to see how we judge others as a society as a whole without even taking a minute to attain all the knowledge and understanding to form an opinion. But, as I said in my first post that was deleted, it is not the fault of the people on here who don't know why things are designed a certain way, it is the fault of your council for not showcasing what the brave men and women of your police and fire departments do EVERYDAY. It is hidden from view and minimized because it is an "expense". I wish you all the best. God bless.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:51 p.m.

Since Belboz wants to talk PARTIAL FACTS, let me fill in the blanks that he glosses over. Yes, in 2008 we responded to 250 fires. That's about the only part where he's correct. IN ADDITION, 3509 EMS calls (that HVA had requested fire to respond), and 1886 other calls. The 'other' category is listed in the document "what we do". He has taken the role of deciding for the city that the FD should no longer have the FD respond to anything other than fires. Having heart attack? Belboz says we shouldn't help you. Lock you kid in the car with it's 95 degrees out? Figure it out, belboz says don't go. How about you have a smell of smoke in your house? Too bad... wait until there are flames showing. Belboz has it all figured out for you folks! Now for those of us with our heads below the clouds, the FD is tasked with responding to MUCH more than fires. Most people know that except the one or two that keep writing to the contrary. Why does HVA ask the FD to go on so many calls? I don't know, ask HVA, but stop accusing the FD of 'chasing ambulances' when you know nothing of the details behind what we do. I've explained how things work until my fingers are numb from typing. Some people, who have never stepped foot in a fire station, wish to believe in their minds that they know how everything works and they have the solution. Well, I'm done trying to talk common sense and logic to 'them'. You want to believe we only run 0.8 calls per day? Ok.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

voiceofreason-Ann Arbor back in the day use to have upwards of over 100 firefighters and had fully staffed trucks as well as the station at E. Stadium and Packard. 94 when you think about it is not alot given they have 3 rotating 24 hour platoons. Now they run the bar minimum of 3 personnel per truck which is 1 driver/operator, 1 officer, and 1 firefighter. Public Safety folks serve a very real purpose, administrative folks need to take the hits. Leadership and sacrifice starts at the top.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

I suspected many of the posters here were FF's and Police. Thank you for being honest. Why can't the ambulance service handle 90% of the calls on their own in A2 like they do in the rest of the county? Are people heavier so they need lifting? The city is spending $13 million per year to put out 250 fires and paying people to sleep. This is a 100 year old model and it was developed back when there were a lot of fires. Sprinklers and modern building methods have made that model obsolete. If you read the article you would know the art center and greenway they are talking about will not cost the city. They are going for grants and fund raising. Not affecting the general fund was right in the resolution. Troy Mich. has lots of big buildings and a part volunteer FD. Once again, the threat of layoffs is not unique to A2, this is statewide.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:17 p.m. I don't know what I'm talking about? - please. As soon as comments break down to the person reporting the numbers - and not the numbers themselves - then that usually means the point is correct. In attempt to change the focus - the person reporting the fact is then questioned. That is arguing 101 - what to do when you are wrong, but want to be right. The link above is a place to confirm the 250 number I used. I couldn't remember exactly where it came from - a previous article I beleive - so I had to Google it. 280 is the number apparently for 2009 - I referenced the 250 from 2008. This year - 2010 - A2 is averaging about 0.8 fire related calls per day. Somewhere along the history of the fire department it seems that less fire related calls were being made, so it must have been decided that they could respond to other calls. Who knows. But, I stick with my original point that, for 0.8 fire related calls per day, we are spending too much money on a Fire Department and should benchmark other cities regarding staffing for similar call per day numbers. And, serious consideration should be given to adding volunteers if there is concern for the "big one" that may show up. Who knows how many people would volunteer - I'm guessing many would. It should not be ignored just because we currently don't have it. Many communities make it work just fine. Sure, 10 may not be the magic number to manage 0.8 Fire Related calls per day. But, whatever the number is - I believe it is closer to 10 than it is 100 - where we are at now. As for the comments re the recent fires - and relying on neighboring resources - that happens all of the time throughout the nation. You can't build a Fire Department so that it is ready for the largest fire in the largest building every day. You pool resources. If Ann Arbor needs a Social Response team - a group of people that respond to Non fire related calls - fine, create one. But, we shouldn't be using highly skilled and highly paid people - Fire Fighters - just because we may have too many on staff and need to keep them busy.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

Regardless of whatever off-topic or diversionary justifications people come up with, there is one simple fact which nobody can validly rebut. A city the size of Ann Arbor does not need to employ 94 people in its fire department. Nobody can honestly say the number 94 represents a proper balance between maximum efficiency/effectiveness. The fire department was created to extinguish fires, not as a means of providing lifelong secure $60-70K(total compensation over $100K)jobs. Taxpayers have been good to the AAFD in past times of economic prosperity. Now that the economy has soured, I would like the AAFD to return the favor. The trough is empty.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

I agree this was a bait and switch... I want the employees to have enough manpower, equipment and training to take on the dangerous jobs with as much reduced risk as possible. Couldn't we just reduce the number of city council members? I want fast and efficient response times to emergencies; Add on 3% I will find a way to make more money and pay for my part of the hike.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

I guess I was hoping that someone in the business could explain why the fire departments don't get some reimbursments from HVA for their help on medical calls. What can and does the fire department bill for. Are all operating costs paid within the budget?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 2 p.m.

Its hard to swallow this information. Those of you who are proposing a volunteer FD should try to find a city similar in size and population of A2 and see if that happens anywhere. One comment above noted how fast fires expand. That is a key point. When I was being trained (police) we were told that the first seven minutes of a fire are the most critical. So if response is affected, you are at more risk. In my career in public safety, I found both the Ann Arbor Fire and Police departments to be outstanding departments. Cuts like this make me wonder if they were over staffed. I doubt it. From some statements noted above, some of you are not thinking about staffing, unless you are proposing no days off, no vacations, no maternity leave and so on. Public safety is 24/7 and needs accurate staffing. When you cut staffing significantly, its something of a roll of the dice. If a major incident occurs, you will be hoping another significant, perhaps much less significant, will wait until the first is over, because response will be slower. I think the FD got scammed. They just agreed to cuts, and now this. Meanwhile the city is spending on a million dollar waterfall. I understand that money is "in a fund that can only be spent on million dollar waterfalls." Its too bad however that the city leadership can't be more focused on figuring out a legal way to change that rather than threatening essential services. Retirement and benefit packages are extremely generous for A2 employees but those plans were agreed on by city councils without consideration of economic climates like this one. Also government by social agenda is the norm in Ann Arbor. I do not recall any news on cutting these type of programs. How much is the city spending on its housing of low income residents? How much on the homeless shelter? Perhaps they are self funding. Or are those expenses untouchable? These type of programs are generous and good hearted, but are they essential services? I suppose what is essential varies from one person to another. Earlier this week, I read an article in support of an arts center on city property on W. Washington. At a time like this, is A2 going to spend to support artists while cutting essential services? At the very least I would suggest the city be far more transparent with all spending before making cuts in essential services.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

@logo and all the other posters that say Ann Arbor should go all volunteer, or partial... Before you decide that it's a good idea to up root the entire operations of the existing department, you had better know how those department operate and WHY they are able to operate with volunteers. Maybe you haven't look out your window or past your computer screen to notice that Ann Arbor is a fairly large city with more than just a few folks living here. Many, read again, many, not all of the surrounding townships have call volumes in one year that the city does in a month or two. Yes, some more, some less. And to the ignorant comment about FD chasing ambulances... get your facts before trying to share your opinions. The FD gets dispatched by HVA. Do you really think, or want others to think, that the FD sits waiting for the ambulance and jumps in the truck and follows them? Get real! HVA REQUESTS THE FD! Those comments are made by people who just have a grudge against the FD and want to pollute the minds of everyone else. It's a real shame.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

Maybe we can make a greenbelt out of the ashes of the city. Maybe we can consider crime to be performance art.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti as well as other larger municipalities need full time, professional fire departments and police forces. There are tall buildings that require more specialized, intense training and quicker responses that part timers just would just not provide. Police deal with more sophisticated, violent criminals, so you need more highly trained officers. When the threat is increased, you must have increased levels of protection.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

To Lynn: I will try to later repost my comment. Please, feel free to contact me by email at I would be more than happy to answe any questions, even chat on the phone. To ypsilivin: I will be glad to share with you the shortfalls of those paid on call fire departments, and HVA or any other private EMS, however, I'm doing this on my phone and it's a pain to type. Briefly: I have done private ems, they can post "non profit" all they want on their ambulances, but they WILL collect from YOU, the tax payer. Also, I did it for 3 years, making 10 bucks an hour and pulling 12 transfers and maybe 2 emergencies a day, your "give a care" light burns out pretty quick. It is a significantly less quality of care. I saw it working there, I see it working in a level 2 trauma center ED, and I see it now being a full time firefghter/paramedic. You can also, please feel free to email me. I'd be more than happy to chat on the phone as well. To Mr Dearing: I spent an hour typing that comment between helping my mom take care of my grandpa. I find that you not giving me a warning of any kind and just deleting my comment to be thoughtless. May I suggest your website insert a character countdown, as do many other media outlet websites, so that the user will be aware he or she may have to post twice? I did not think to save that, and will now have to type it over later.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

I would not be surprise that the UM will implement their own FD, if response levels get to a crucial point. As shown with their PD, they need the control that the city is not providing with these services. The budget is a shell game and Fraser seems to create numbers based on the subject matter at the time. Basic city services should be the driving factor during these economic hard times. Art, Greenbelt, Fras-MaHall, underground parking, YMCA fiasco, Family Housing, Senior Center, pools, bridges, the list goes on as to the mis-management of the city by council, Mayor and Fraser. It really is a shame. The best city in the entire state and seeing how it's being trashed due to a lack of vision, focus and leadership. My ballot will see a sharpened No. 2 pencil at the next election.

Lisa Starrfield

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

Stunshlf, Do you have any evidence to support your contention that the document posted by Really is inaccurate? If not, you owe the firemen and women of this city an apology.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

Personal experience living close to one of Ann Arbor's fire stations: Those trucks roll at least three or four times per day. Those who put the number of runs in the thousands are certainly closer to the mark than those who put them in the hundreds. This one station alone handles well over a thousand runs per year.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:58 a.m.

A2 should give up on the ambulance chasing except when really needed and go to having a Fire Fighter or two at each station and they are then joined at the scene by on-call volunteers. This is the way it is done in the townships, some of which have good sized populations. Some towns out east do this too. It makes sense rather than paying people to sleep.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

You should all get out more. This is happening in cities across the state. Don't even bother with the usual bankrupt places. Look at (Republican) Grand Rapids where they just cut 137 jobs, 33 in police and 22 in the fire department, in the middle of their budget year. Ann Arbor didn't cut any jobs. Ann Arbor is actually doing better than other places. Every town, everybody, in Michigan is going to have to take deeper pay cuts. The city admin. is positioning for next years budget, so is the Fire Dept. They will come to an agreement by then. In the meantime the media will enjoy stirring the pot. If the police really want to keep their jobs protecting us, they will conceed too. They have yet to give up anything.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

Why do the area fire departments provide a free service to HVA for additional personnel? I know first hand that they are quite persistant and effective at collecting every penny they can for those calls. When my grandpa had fallen, it was the fire department (Thanks again to Engine 4) that did the work on scene. They were great until the ambulance got there. Then they continued to be great while the HVA couple wrote stuff down and watched the fire dept. Put him on a backboard, stretcher and into the ambulance. Is this normal?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

No offence intended to the volunteer/paid on call firefighters. They do an excellent job for their communities. Most of which are to small to afford a full time fire dept. But even they will admit that having firefighters at the station improves response times.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

@Ryan J. Stanton "The city's budget numbers have definitely been hard-to-follow moving targets" it's a shell game!


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

I read the claim of 250 runs a year for the fire dept. I'm not sure were you get that number from because the last I knew they were running over 6,000 calls annually. The 250 number is actual fires. The also go to medical emergencies, car accidents, electrical wires down, gas leaks, fire alarms, people locked out of their cars ect. If you have a police emergency, burglary, robbery, shooting, stabbing, assualt, stolen car ect. the police come and help. If you have a medical emergency the ambulance comes and helps. Any other kind of emergency the fire dept goes. If someone falls through the ice today the fire dept will be the ones to rescue them. If a construction trench collapses trapping a worker the fire dept handles it. If someone is trapped in a car after an accident the fire dept extricates them. If a factory worker gets an arm caught in a machine, fire dept. window washer dangling from the side of a building, fire dept. Edison wires down, fire dept. natural gas leak, fire dept. gasoline spill at a gas station, fire dept. hazardous material leak/spill, fire dept. carbon monoxide detector activation, fire dept. puppy caught in a drain, fire dept. I could go on and on with the list. If a call comes into an emergency dispatch center and their not sure who would handle it they send the fire dept. They are trained in multiple disciplines to be able to assist in almost any situation. Plus they still respond to medicals with the ambulance and car accidents where they assist the paramedics and help the police control traffic. They also on occasion provide the police with assistance gaining entry into buildings by forcing doors or supplying ladders. Do not make the mistake of thinking that all you are losing is firefighting that can be replaced by volunteer/paid on call personnel. If you fall through the ice you don't want wait for the volunteers to drive to the station, get a truck, then drive to the scene. You also don't want to wait for a truck to come across town because your station was closed. As far as the fire in Ypsilanti needing 5 fire depts to put out, that is because they don't have enough help to do it themselves and they are facing more cuts. If they had more help when they pulled up to the fire they might have been able to save the multi million building that will no longer be paying taxes. For you people who complain that the firefighters don't do anything if they are not on a call, you need to understand that they are there for 24 hours. They have to cook, eat and clean up after. They maintain stations, cleaning, cutting grass, snow removal ect. The same things anybody does at their house. They also are constantly training to maintain proficiency and learn the newest techniches. In short you are losing alot more than just a firefighting force.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

Viva la art and greenbelts!

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

Tony Dearing, That was on interesting and informative comment, it's too bad that it had to be removed. What exactly are the guidelines on length? Hopefully the young man will repost his comments as two posts.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

SJFinest, That's an awful lot of FUD to swallow in one bite. In looking at Dexter's fire department, they provide fire service to Dexter, Dexter Township, Lima Township and Webster township. They do it (as of 2009) with a full-time chief, six full-time firefighters and about 25 paid-on-call firefighters. Why isn't Ann Arbor looking at having paid-on-call firefighters? With regard to medical response, we have HVA. They're fully trained paramedics and they respond 24 hours a day. In addition, many volunteer firefighters are trained paramedics, or medics-in-training. This situation calls for constructive ideas and viable solutions, not fear-mongering. Looking at supplementing the AAFD with volunteers or paid-on-call firefighters is a constructive idea. It may or may not be a viable solution, but as it stands, the City of Ann Arbor says it can only afford 74 people in 2010. If you had to serve a city the size of Ann Arbor with 71 firefighters (74 minus the Chief and two assistants), how would you do it?

Fat Bill

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 11 a.m.

Tough times make for tough choices. The University of Michigan is stabilizing force in Ann Arbor, without the school, unemployment would be as high here as anywhere else in southeast Michigan. Unfortunately, the school is not legally obligated to pay taxes on all that property they occupy, yet they are legally entitled to receive city services. I live in Saline and work in Ann Arbor, like many others I receive city services from Ann Arbor that I don't directly pay for. If I were a resident, I would demand some sort of an income tax. Such a tax could be created with a subsequent reduction in the local millage rate, and spread the burden to all who receive the benefit of city services. Lets face it, you get what you pay for. One only has to look to Detroit to see a city who's budget is dominated by public safety. Other services and programs are cut, reducing the quality of life, and people who can afford to leave the city. Revenue falls, more services are cut, taxes are raised because the people who remain tend to need the services the most and pay the least, and the cycle repeats itself until the city is bankrupt. It is important for Ann Arbor's leaders to keep up city services, either by making proportional cuts or finding new revenue streams to balance the budget. I've been pleased to see consolidation efforts moving forward. A regional fire department may offer the opportunity to pool resources and streamline fire operations in the area. In suburban Washington County west of Portland, Oregon, the Tualitin Valley Fire and Rescue model has worked well. This department has stations that are manned full-time as well as volunteer/paid on call stations in rural areas. The department is funded by a relatively low property tax, and protects 440,000 people in 9 cities and a significant rural area (no townships in Oregon). Administration, training, and other costs are reduced. If we can get over turf issues here, such a model might work on a county-wide or even region-wide basis.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Rome burns, Nero fiddles, news at 11:00. This City Council (and its counterpart on the Washtenaw County Board of Commisioners) has always viewed mandated governmental services as a sort of necessary evil that gets in the way of their acting like effite philanthropists. There always seems to be money to continue to fund non-profits, discretionary social services and public art projects while at the same time our public safety and our standard of living diminishes. On the other hand, we keep letting the same people (or their clones) get elected. Quit complaining and run for office.

scooter dog

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

No money for police and fire but lots of extra cash for a new city hall and lotsa art and when they have a large fire and no one to put it out then they will wake up.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

If these cuts happen the numbers for fire and police are going to be at pre-1970 levels. Does that meet your definition of being safe? By the way, don't get mugged at police shift change in the afternoon. There is only one officer in a car during that time for the entire city. Does anyone remember the recent fire that killed three people in Ann Arbor? The first truck didn't arrive for ten minutes? Maybe could get the figures about how many officers and fire fighters are on the streets at any given time?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

@Bornnraised no Ypsi and Ypsi Twp are full time staffed


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

Administrators should take the first and largest cuts. The people responsible for looking forward and dealing with problems should take responsibility and take the first cuts. That's a basic management function. We've had plenty of warning that there would be problems from this recession, and it should be obvious at this point that things will get worse for a while longer. The city administration should get significant salary cuts before we talk about cutting more emergency response staff. It's not as if there's an overwhelming demand for administrators right now. OTOH, everyone has to realize that this is a bad recession, and except for not significantly cutting their own salaries, the administration staff is pointing out the reality that the city has to drastically cut costs. It would be nice if they'd recognize that we can't afford any new capital projects right now. And how bad is this recession? There's a nice tool at the Minnesota Federal Reserve Bank that makes it easier to see: Click on the "Recessions by States" tab, choose Michigan on the map, and compare this to the '80 and '81 recessions. If you were in Michigan then, you'll remember how bad those years were here, and this recession is worse. Also, this SEMCOG analysis ( points out that SE Michigan has had a 12% loss in per-capita income from 2000 to 2008. That's only dropped further in the past year. For Michigan, this really is a second Great Depression.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

Isn't Ypsi Twp a combination dept? For those curious, combination USUALLY means they have one full time person at the station to pull the truck and then depend on volunteers driving their personal vehicles to the scene. That's 'generally' how it works. Each combination does it a little different, but it's based on depending on volunteers being available. On major incidents that way the townships call everyone. It's not the number of truck on a scene that make things happen, it's the amount of people to use those trucks that get it done. A truck on scene with 5 or 6 people on it is FAR more productive and 5 trucks driven by one person each.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

Ypsilivin....Ann Arbor is NOT the only 100% professional fire department in Washtenaw County. The city of Ypsilanti is a full time professional department and Ypsilanti Township is a full time professional department....I support the firefighters, I just want to get the facts right.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

It seems that many don't want to "waste" their hard earned money on these "underworked" firefighters. So, I have a simple solution. Require, by law, that everyone within the city limits have a full bladder at all times. It will be a huge volunteer fire department! That should be easy, since there are so few public rest rooms.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

37 SERIOUS crimes in A.A. for the week of 1/24 thorugh 1/30 according to Not to forget police officer/department assistance to "serious"incidents that occured in Ypsi, Ypsi Twp., Pittsfield, Superior. I have a solution, lay off more police, lay off more fire personal, build a new city hall, buy artwork, build underground garages. Everyone will be nicer, crime will go down, no fires or serious incidents/accidents will occur and we can all go and play with our dogs (roaming free) at local businesses (no animal control officers needed either). What is truly sad is that being born and raised in A.A. Memories as a child and young adult of working at Carmens Shoes and Wilds on State St., no fear of walking to night basketball games at Yost, hockey games at the Coliseum, and movies at the State and Michigan theaters, my spouse and I no longer feel comfortable or safe in many downtown areas. Ann Arbors response, lay of those who protect and serve us.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

AACity12, Every other department in Washtenaw County uses volunteer firefighters. There are a lot of people who volunteer for this service.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

KRC No one has the authority to tax the state. Stop and think for a minute: are you really suggesting that UM doesn't contribute to the Ann Arbor economy? Please...


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

It's high time to oust the mayor and council and replace them with a responsive crew who will work FOR the taxpayers and not against them. It's high time we had representatives who will rid us of the old and find us a new administrator who can truthfully work within the budget she (or he) is given. It's high time we have a council who will extract us from the current fiscal system of "buckets" that's been created over the years, so there's no longer any justification for spending money on projects we can't afford while we're cutting expenditures we can't afford to be without. Bring on the recall petitions - my pen is ready!


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

Somebody tell me why UM doesn't pay taxes? I have always wondered. It is HUGE. It even has its own zip code. If it were required to pay taxes, it would go a long way towards filling our coffers.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

Who are you going to get to volunteer to respond to over 20 calls a day?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

I hope the firefighters who voted for concessions realize their mistake. They are going to layoff either way. They are going to cripple the Fire Department either way. Might as well keep your benefits. The other city unions should take note too. Keep what Fire hasn't already given away for you.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

You know, cutting jobs and going to an all-volunteer fire fighting force seems like a winner to me. In fact, let's solve the educational budget crisis the same way. Think of the money we'd save if we didn't have to waste it on those teachers!


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Belboz, An office building in Ypsilanti burned down last weekend. FIVE different departments responded to put that out. I (and many other people on this site) don't consider myself the brightest bulb in the box but even I know that you need significantly more than 10 firefighters to protect a city the size of Ann Arbor. What I want to know is this: Ann Arbor is the only 100% professional fire department in Washtenaw County. Would there be any savings to shifting to a partially-volunteer department?


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

This is all part of Fraser's and Hieftje's plan to break the unions and implement a City Income Tax. They are going after the Firemen because that will create the most drama. Fraser and Hieftje will cry that the city is out of money. Once the Union gives in these two will say it isn't enough and more jobs will need to be cut. Or, everything can be saved if we only had a city income tax. The plan is to force the voters to accept the income tax. While all of this is gong on Fraser and Hieftje will continue to build the Taj Mahal/City Hall with money that belongs to the people of AA. While we are focused on the loss in public safety these two will find more German artwork to buy. After all, according to the people running the City of AA, none of the local AA artist are good enough to create art for the people of AA. Why should the AA people's money be used on a local AA artist for the People's building? We all have to band together and vote for better leaders. Fraser and Hieftje's priorities are wrong. We need to replace the City Council, the Mayor and Fraser now.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5 a.m.

What people have to realize is that the fire department does not just respond to fires. They respond to EMS runs, PI accidents, hazardous situations, among other calls. They are essential when it relates to priority runs for fire companies average a response time of 5 minutes or less. Also, Ann Arbor is not Saline or other small communities they pride themselves on being able to have a full time professional firefighting force, volunteer firefighters dont always work for every community. The bottom line is that if you close stations response times will be increase and it may end up costing someone there life down the road.

Cendra Lynn

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:36 a.m.

Sadly, these comments miss the point. Two, really. 1) By cutting things the public can see, Council can scare residents into additional fees and taxes. 2) There is no question that public safety is now an oxymoron. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. [Citizens Police Academy] By bringing in other departments or volunteers, you can save property, but not people. The last fire chief quit because the Administration would not admit that. [] The last police chief left because the Administration would not admit that the pollice can no longer can handle two major emergencies. Police have to decide which to respond to. [Personal conversations with the ex-chief and current police.] We are not safe now. The Administration doesn't care, nor are they going to. They have money hidden in strange places in their budget that would more than cover basic safety services. They want to use it for other projects. Only by voting them out can we change this downward spiral.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 11:12 p.m.

BTW, the city FD is up to 22 calls for the day. Multiple car wrecks, alarms, serious medicals, and a citizen assist. Check with your volunteer departments. 22 calls is what some do in 2 weeks. That's not a knock against volunteer or career. It's simply to point out that some areas warrant a volunteer department do to the low volume of calls they have. The city on the other hand, does not have a low call volume. Regardless of what some of the opinions of people here are, the FD runs calls. A lot of calls everyday. Just because you haven't used the 911 system, do take it upon yourself to decide that no one else needs it.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

@stuhsif... so you position is that everytime a fire truck goes lights and sirens down the road (way more than the ONE TIME A DAY as those of you who know nothing of the department claim), are you saying that it's just a made up call? Or maybe you'd just like the FD to stop going on heart attacks, CPRs, car accidents, etc? And before you come back with some snippy comment... I'm sure you also are aware that HVA is the entity that requests the FD to medicals when their people need the help. But you hold your grudge, whatever the source of that might be. We'll still respond to all calls w/o hesitation. Oh, and all of those departments around the city have to call in multiple cities because in a volunteer department, there's no way of telling how many, if any, firefighters you'll get to an emergency. Again... know your facts.

The Grinch

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 10:59 p.m.

Belboz: I count 2200 runs per year. Did you lose a decimal?


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 10:59 p.m.

How can the city council and mayor even think of building an ill-conceived convention center, a sculpture, underground parking, section 8 housing in an out-of-the-way location, and the other frivolous projects it funds while not even critically examining the need for basic services, such as firefighters, police and even their severe cuts in ice and snow removal which leads to even more need for fire trucks and police responding to accidents. Also the crime has really gone up in this area, and the best offense is a good defense. The worst response is to get rid of police. These city council members and the mayor need to be impeached before the city deteriorates even more.

The Grinch

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 10:55 p.m.

Mississippi here we come!!! Oh, wait. We're already there!!


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

currently there are 94 firefighters. 94-19 getting let go equals 75. 250 runs per year, less than one per day with 75 firefighters and belboz is spot on. @Really, you expect me to believe your link which was written by the union folks at the AAFD? What kook-aid, I mean kool-aid do you think we are drinking? If there were a huge fire, you would call in surrounding fire departments just like Saline--Milan--Dexter--Dundee--Maybee--Manchester and all the other volunteer fire departments do. The 4% give back on salary alone is not enough. Not saying that city admin folks have given enough either. 3% is a joke! Cuts must be made to pensions and healthcare as well. Tough times call for stark painful decision making. Add volunteer firefighters to AAFD, you would get way more applicants than would be needed. Saline and all the others turn people away!

Ann Arbor Resident

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9:58 p.m.

I do not understand how the city can continue to decrease public safety personnel. What game are they playing? Are they trying to see how low they go before UM decides the danger level for their students, faculty and staff has reached a critical level resulting in UM support for these city services? Are they waiting until crime increases to a point where the electorate has had enough and supports increased taxes to pay for these basic city services? In either case they are playing with peoples lives by decreasing public safety. How can our city council consider additional capital projects (convention center, transit center, runway extenstion, etc.) before they figure out how to maintain basic public services with the resources that are available?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9:10 p.m.

Here's a story from earlier this week on Roger Fraser's message to the City Council to set aside politics and make tough choices on the budget. He has suggested in the past that means looking at public safety services, which are half the general fund. City records show the general fund budget for fiscal year 2008-09 was balanced with revenues and expenditures equal at $89.2 million. Last May, the city projected revenues of $85.2 million for fiscal year 2009-10, which proved to be $3.3 million too optimistic when updated projections were released in December. Similarly, the city had projected revenues of $82.9 million for fiscal year 2010-11, which proved to be $6.8 million too optimistic. That brings the city down to a general fund budget of about $76.1 million starting in July, which is a 15 percent drop over two years.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

Shame on the city administrators! If this happens, it will be a sad and scary time for Ann Arbor residents. What a slap in the face of union members that made voluntary concessions.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 8:29 p.m.

@Really? You raise a good point on the math. The city's budget numbers have definitely been hard-to-follow moving targets.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 8:03 p.m.

Belboz knows nothing of what he's talking about, it's been obvious from all of his posts. 250 calls a year? Is that what you reference belboz? Get the facts straight. Also, someone please tell me how Fraser said laying off 13 firefighters 6 months early was a savings of $396k for 1/2 a year. That equals $792k per year for 13 firefighters. But now he says is $1.4 millon? Well folks, either he's a liar, or he has a calculator that just doesn't work on his desk. You tell me which it is. As for the "250 fire related calls per year" that the self-proclaimed expert above refers to... go read the link and decide for yourself who you want to listen to. He wants you to think the FD runs on one CALL per day. Again, read the link. Some folks with pollute this site with their OPINIONS rather than facts. Knowing the difference is the key.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

belboz, you are so deadly wrong. you want to pull up to a frat fire, dorm fire or one of the big u of m buildings with 10 personnel? obviously you know not that of which you speak.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 6:43 p.m.

At 250 fire related calls per YEAR, I don't see how we are justified in having a 94 person fire department, or a $14 million budget. That is less than one per day. So, don't pay attention to the scare tactics regarding response times. 10 people should be plenty for 1 fire per day. How about a system that relies on volunteers as well. It seems to work in other communities.

The Grinch

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 6:42 p.m.

It's called bait and switch.