Warren firefighters clash with city on proposed ordinance

WARREN, Ohio – Warren city leaders say they are trying to save the taxpayers money but firefighters say the city is trying to punish their department for not settling on a new contract.Warren city firefighter’s contract expired in September.  They say they are at a stalemate in negotiations with the city. Now the union representing the firefighters believe new legislation is targeting the department because of the contract dispute.

One ordinance calls for reducing captains from 6 down to 3.  Firefighters union leader, John Jerina, talks about another proposed ordinance.

“Our inspection bureau which is occupied by captains, They want to make it so anyone who has an inspection card can do inspections. We feel it’s all retaliatory. We haven’t settled a contract. There’s no cost savings and if there is it’s very minimal,” says Jerina.

Warren’s safety service director says the legislation has nothing to do with contract negotiations.  He says the city has been looking at ways to save the city money and in this case he says there’s no legal reason why only someone with the rank of captain can be a fire inspector.

“You’re able to have even more inspectors and for purposes of overtime and things like that, it results in a substantially lower cost because when a firefighter gets called out for overtime it’s obviously less expensive than when a captain gets called out for overtime,” says Enzo Cantalamessa.

If the ordinance would pass the city would wait for three of the current captains to retire so there would be no layoffs, nor would they take away someone’s rank.  Still, unions leaders say it’s a slap in their face since the department fought hard to get a levy passed for the city.

More debate on this issue is expected at Wednesday night’s main council meeting.