Vote to deny integration of Fire and EMS is a barrier to improving service to Clevelanders

Local 93 vote to deny integration of Fire and EMS is a barrier to improving fire, medical and rescue response

City to review all options to achieve integration and improve service

This evening, the City of Cleveland learned that the membership of the firefighters’ union, Local 93, voted down the City’s proposal to move forward with integrating the Divisions of Fire and EMS into the Division of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services.

“The outcome of the vote is a major disappointment and impedes our ability to deliver better, faster medical service and fire suppression in Cleveland,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Improving service, particularly to people in need of emergency care, comes first and we will review all options to achieve that goal.”

The integrated Division would allow the City to meet the ever-increasing need for pre-hospital medical care in our neighborhoods while maintaining fire and rescue ability and resources. Specifically, integration would increase capacity of advanced life support (ALS) on Fire first responder units and ultimately increase the total number of ALS ambulances through cross training of Fire and EMS personnel. In addition, integration reduces redundant administrative and operational resources.

Full integration would take place over time as new hires are trained as firefighter-paramedics.  Since announcing the plan to integrate the two divisions in April 2010, the City has made progress in several key areas:

  • Seventeen of the City’s 18 ambulances are now co-located with fire response apparatus at fire stations across the city.
  • In the summer of 2013, several EMS employees successfully completed cross training to be firefighter-paramedics. Along with existing Fire paramedics, the EMS employees would be among the first employees in the new all hazard firefighter-paramedic classification.
  • Five engine companies now offer Advanced Life Support and are strategically deployed in neighborhoods to reduce response time to critical life threatening medical emergencies.
  • Administrative functions for the two divisions have been consolidated, including payroll and timekeeping; supply and equipment purchasing, tracking, inventory, and delivery; and training and education staff.
  • Biometric (fingerprint) time clock and scheduling software has been implemented at Fire and EMS locations.
  • An Office of Integrity Control, Compliance and Employee Accountability, led by former Cleveland Police Lieutenant James Votypka, was created. This office  is responsible for random and unannounced inspections; monitoring of payroll and timekeeping records, documents, and other records maintained by the Divisions of Fire and EMS; and as necessary, making recommendations for corrective and disciplinary action.