NOFD announces plan to cut costs

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 11 at 11:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

The New Orleans Fire Deparment is changing the way it operates to help balance its budget and be more efficient. On Friday, NOFD announced details of a new redeployment plan which fire officials say will continue to offer the same level of service to citizens. However, not everyone is convinced.
 
"This house has been in our family for 60 years," said Cheryl Rodeghero who joined family members on Friday night to save what's left of her Aunt's Lower Garden District home.
 
Overnight fire fighters tried to save the structure from a three-alarm fire. However, the house is destroyed but Cheryl is grateful everyone walked away alive.
 
"The four [fire] houses that came were incredible. They really were. We so appreciate it and we're so thankful," said Rodeghero.
 
Budget cuts at City Hall has forced the New Orleans Fire Department to balance its budget. NOFD announced a plan which essentially reassigns how it uses its personnel and equipment.
 
"That redeployment plan will keep all fire houses open, it will keep all equipment engines  -- what we call engines what you see behind me --- that respond with water and the ability to fight fire," said NOFD Assistant Superintendent Tim McConnell.
 
However, NOFD says two ladder companies will close by the end of this year -- on Old Gentilly Road and Arabella Street. Additionally, several vacant positions won't be filled. McConnell says its a way to save jobs but reassignments & cross-training will happen.
 
"It will effect the amount of people who are assigned to our special units which we call our special operations units which currently are heavy rescue units that run with 8, they'll be running with 4," said McConnell.
 
"We understand the financial crisis that the City is in but to balance it on safety is a very, very huge concern of ours," said New Orleans Firefighters Union President Nick Felton. The union believes that NOFD's redeployment plan is a danger to firefighters and citizens.
 
"Anyway you look at it, the numbers don't lie. You're going from 770 to 694 that's a reduction in the amount of available personnel in any department," said Felton.
 
As NOFD prepares to impliment its cost cutting plan -- one family that lost everything to flames --- hopes response time stays the same. Afterall Rodeghero knows every minute counts.
 
"Its like breathing. You have to have them. You really do," said Rodeghero of the fire department. NOFD says it will begin its redeployment plan starting next week. Fire officials say they're working with an $83.4 million budget this year.

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