Public safety shifts redesign suggested to reduce Gloversville spending

Former Councilman Lance Gundersen, R-2nd Ward, is proposing a new staff deployment plan that he cont

Former Councilman Lance Gundersen, R-2nd Ward, is proposing a new staff deployment plan that he contends could save about $600,000 a year in the Fire Department and $360,000 in the Police Department.

Those two units cost the city about $2 million each.

Gundersen, author of the blog he calls “Res Publica,” mentioned the proposal Friday in a posting on the city message board which referred readers to his blog.

“It’s only the beginning of discussion,” Gundersen said in a telephone interview. While conceding “I obviously don’t know everything police officers and firefighters have to do,” he said city personnel costs have to be addressed.

“I threw it out there for discussion as an idea,” he said, adding that pieces of the proposal may prove acceptable.

Gundersen proposes to place two firefighters per shift on on-call status while also implementing the so-called DuPont schedule, a deployment in rotating shifts designed to minimize overtime while achieving staffing numbers.

Mayor Dayton King said he read Gundersen’s blog quickly Friday, but will examine it more thoroughly before sharing it with the Common Council and the chiefs in each department.

The firefighters contract provision requiring minimum staffing of seven firefighters and a battalion chief may block Gundersen’s proposal for that department.

“I’m sure the firefighters union will have a problem with that,” King said of Gundersen’s plan to have five firefighters on duty with two on call.

The city’s special labor counsel, Bryan J. Goldberger, said such an change in shift deployment would have to be negotiated.

With three more years remaining on the recently ratified firefighters’ contract, King said any changes may have to wait. “I feel my hands are tied with the minimum manning requirement.”

Firefighters union President Robert Davis did not return a phone call.

If the fire department operation is reviewed, King said it may be worthwhile to consider eliminating the existing 24-hour shifts, which are followed by three days off. Other departments, including nearby Johnstown, utilize more conventional shifts, King said.

Under the DuPont plan, which Gundersen said was implemented at his job site, four consecutive nights are followed by three days off, and then by three straight days and another day off. In the 28-day schedule, employees receive a week off.

Gundersen also examines the police department, where officers are concerned that department numbers will drop this to 28–down from 34. With two officers injured, there will soon by only 26 available to police the city. The fire department has 32 firefighters.

Gundersen argues that implementation of the DuPont schedule may provide sufficient shift strength to police the city effectively with only 26 officers.

Police spokesman Capt. James Lorenzoni said Friday he was not familiar with the proposal and was thus in no position to comment.

Categories: Schenectady County

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