Ottumwa Fire Department looks at part-time firefighters to offset overtime costs

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:33 AM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Ottumwa’s Fire Department could hire more firefighters - in part time positions.

It was the first item on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda.

The fire crews at Ottumwa Fire Departments have had trouble reaching a minimum of 6 firefighters per shift - even after the 20-percent department cut last year.

Fire Chief Tony Miller breaks down recent losses. “Our green crew has lost one person to another department, we just lost a second person to another department. And we have a third person on the green crew that has an on the job injury.”

Miller calls it an “unusual situation.” They’ve had to call in off-shift firefighters to fill that minimum, racking up overtime.

To save money on overtime, the Fire Department’s looking at hiring part time firefighters.

They’re looking to cities like Johnston and Grimes, which have similar systems.

The Chief says he’s looking at hiring anywhere from four to six part timers.

Miller says the cost of those part timers would be around half of what the city’s current paying in overtime.

“We’re just trying to make it more feasible for the city and for our fire guys.”

While the Council approved the Fire Department to look into this, the Chief says it could be three months before they hire anyone.

Also on the city council agenda Tuesday night...

The Council rejected all proposals for a Fixed Base Operator at Ottumwa Regional Airport. Instead, the City will assume the operations internally.

The City will look at the nomination process for City Representatives this summer. They have several options, from a runoff to a caucus. Or they could keep the same election system.

And the human rights commission is still in development. It’s something City Administrator Phil Rath says he wants to do justice.

“I want to make sure that if we’re doing something and putting the City’s stamp on that. That we’re doing it in a thoughtful manner and something that’s going to be sustainable. And something that’s going to fit with the community and be able to grow from that.”

The City Administrator has not yet given a date for when he would like to start that commission.

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