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Tallahassee firefighter union requests additional audit on city's fire service fund

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 19:58:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Tallahassee Professional Firefighters requested an additional audit be done to the city's Fire Service Fund.

In a press release, the union said:

In April of 2021 the Fire Chief of the Tallahassee Fire Department was directed by City Administrators to cut $1 million from his budget for the remainder of FY21. In that direction, the Fire Chief was told to entertain reduced services or reduced coverage to make up the shortfall. Due to the safety concerns these cuts would raise, both for the public and the members of the Fire Department, the Tallahassee Professional Firefighters have requested that an audit be completed of the Fire Services Fund. We feel it essential that this fund be immediately examined by an outside, third-party auditor to ensure that the fees that have been paid have been used to provide the services they were intended to fund.

The President of Tallahassee Professional Firefighters Joey Davis said their biggest concern is safety.

"Due to entertaining what we are called a brownout. We felt it was necessary to look into the fire services fund," Davis said. "and specifically edit it in regards to how it is tied to the statute on fire assessments."

He said the city's Resource Management Office proposed TFD explore a tactic known as "brownouts".

This is when fire stations are closed down periodically, while the units work at other locations.

TFD Chief Jerome Gaines wrote in a budget proposal to the city he would not cut the availability of services and doing so would violate the standards of the department.

Davis said a big part of the cuts went to overtime staff.

This is how they're able to maintain a certain number of personnel on the scene.

"When a seat goes empty on a fire truck we have to have a certain amount of personnel on scene for our protection and for the protection of the people we serve," Davis said.

The city said the Fire Services Fund is just one of many departments receiving cuts.

Due to the pandemic, the city found a 30 million dollar gap in finances.

From that, TFD saw a shortfall of $2.5 million. The city said this is because the commission voted to delay increasing the fire assessment fee to next year.

The city and county plan to do a fire services assessment study in the coming years to work with the department to find ways to get more money back to them after the loss of revenue from the pandemic.

The city also said it's still working on finalizing the budget for Fire Services and it'll be determined at the budget close out at the end of the year.