Aug 8, 2009

Mayor declares state of emergency over staffing challenges at Cincinnati Fire Department​


Cincinnati mayor John Cranley has declared a state of emergency for the Cincinnati Fire Department due to staffing challenges caused by COVID-19.

Cranley said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has had a significant impact on the fire department's staffing levels.

The mayor said, if unaddressed, the staffing shortage would impact the department's ability to respond to emergencies.

The city's fire chief said the current rising levels of COVID-19 make the department vulnerable to staffing shortages that would impair their ability to protect the lives and property of residents.

The emergency declaration will allow the city manager to take any action necessary to make sure staffing levels are sufficient including suspending and rules or policies.

Read Cranley's full statement below:

"Due to the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases during this holiday season, I am declaring a state of emergency in Cincinnati to help ensure that the City can provide sufficient fire services. The rise in cases has created staffing challenges for the fire department; however, public safety and the delivery of basic services remain our top priority. Having spoken with Chief Washington yesterday and with his request for this declaration, he will be able to take all necessary steps to ensure full quality fire service in the coming weeks. I have briefed Mayor-Elect Pureval, and he recommended that the order follow the customary duration, 60 days, which will extend into his term. I continue to urge everyone to exercise caution this holiday season. Please get vaccinated and continue to practice COVID-19 safety protocols.”

Fire Union Local 48 President Matt Alter said more than three dozen Cincinnati firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last few days.

"The fire department is a microcosm of larger society, and it appears this new variant of COVID is running through the fire department," Alter said.

Alter said when you couple that with a department he says is already short-staffed and scheduled time off, it becomes the perfect storm.

"It's the perfect storm for what's been predicted, which is — we are going to be extremely short which would inhibit the ability for the fire department to respond," Alter said. "We need to add additional firefighters so we have the ability to absorb these unanticipated and unexpected emergencies."

Alter said the union is working with the city to find a way to balance public safety and not burn out firefighters.

The order will be in effect for 60 days unless withdrawn or suspended beforehand.