Duluth Fire Department Proposes 2018 Budget

October 05, 2017 10:56 PM

Duluth Fire Department Chief Dennis Edwards provided a projected 2018 budget to City Council at its agenda session Thursday.

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At a total of more than $16 million, the proposal suggests that no one from the fire department will lose their job next year.

"This budget does not include any risk of layoffs to firefighters or anyone else in life safety,” said Edwards.

However, both the fire department and the city are looking at the possibility of decreasing the number of daily firefighters on duty by one for next year, from 36 to 35.

"Ninety-six percent of our operations budget is people, and the most important asset to a fire department is our firefighters. We have great firefighters. But, there really is not a lot of room to find budget cuts,” said Edwards.

Yet, one way they are looking to cut some red tape from the budget is to make staff assignment changes within the department. City councilor Noah Hobbs is curious to see what that will mean.

"I think really examining what that shift would mean for if it affects efficiencies and whatnot. And certainly I want to highlight that no firefighters would be laid off through this, but to see if there is any changes in efficiency or public service, said Hobbs.

Chief Edwards says the city knows how important the firefighter are to keeping the city safe, but he says it's important to look out for their best interest too.

"We're going to continue to strive to make the safest staffing possible for our firefighters,” said Edwards.

Monday -- City Council is expected to vote on an $375,000 increase to this year's budget to cover the cost for unexpected overtime. Chief Edwards says he is confident the resolution will pass. However, if it doesn't, then he says he'll look deep to find other ways to cover costs.

City Council will vote on next year's budget in December.


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