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Unions at odds over police, fire merger

As the vote grows closer, relations between the two departments are strained

By FireRescue1 Staff

BAY CITY, Mich. — Mich. city officials will be voting next month whether or not to merge fire and police departments. If approved, police will be cross-trained to fight fires.

Officials say the merger can save the city $2 million per year and would reduce the fire department staff from 43 to 15 to 25 over 18 months. The police department would remain at its current staff level, according to Mlive. The city police chief and interim fire chief both endorse the plan, while members of the IAFF oppose it.

President of the Bay City firefighters union Kurt Wagner, says the plan is a political play to raid the department's budgets and increase police union membership.

The police union's business agent, Dan Kuhn said that the "IAFF is martyring their guys over this issue. It's probably going to lead to the elimination of more firefighters in the state."

Kuhn says that the merger is a necessary "evolution" because of decreasing budgets.

Advocates of the plan say not only will money be saved, but that it makes sense because 86% of emergency calls are directed at police.

Mlive reports that those against it say officials are more concerned about money and are favoring police officers. Decreasing trained firefighters, some said, will put the public at risk.

For now, there is animosity brewing between the two departments as they try to work together before the vote takes place, both still advocating and decrying the plan.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Charles Gluck Charles Gluck Monday, October 22, 2012 4:53:43 PM Once again some stupid bean counter decides to merge police and fire services. I've been in the Fire Service for 40 years, do you know how many time this has been tried? Guess what it almost never works. If it does work it happens in urbane towns that don't have real fire problems. However the dirty little secret is that when these "cops" have to fight fires, many of them get hurt or killed. Look at Sunnyvale Calif. In the years I was a San Jose Firefighter, Sunnyvale had three of their "public safety officers" killed doing things regular firefighters would not have done. When are people going to learn?
Dave Igneczi Dave Igneczi Monday, October 22, 2012 5:34:42 PM There they go expecting the emergency services to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. That leads to serious injuries and line of duty deaths.
Richard Rathke Stannard Richard Rathke Stannard Monday, October 22, 2012 7:08:42 PM Its happening in the city of Portage MI too. They went as far as "browning out station 3 and moving the engine to the central station, increasing response times to the east side of Portage. The city is separated by train tracks, central station is on the west side of the tracks. Hope they don't have train at the same time someone calls 911. They bought a SUV to respond in to save money, and browning out the station will save money. But the city gave the city manager a fat raise and a bonus....I thought they were trying to save money. The problem is Kalamazoo department of public safety is like this, its one of the largest in the nation. So everyone in Michigan wants to go to this. They even talked about trying it at the county wide level. The whole thing is a mess.
Larry Karp Larry Karp Tuesday, October 23, 2012 3:50:39 AM In Illinois we went to the state capitol to make these types of mergers illegal. Merging does not end up being good for anyone. Shame on any police officer who endorses this plan.
John R Eeten John R Eeten Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:54:57 AM First, How much training is there to be a quality Police Officer? Second, How much Training does it take to be a quality Firefighter, let alone all of the specialties and subspecialties? Now add being an EMT or Medic to the mix! There is not enough time in a year to be properly and proviciently trained in both. This id just the training aspect, now check the Family Life. Too many things to do to be safe, and isn't that what we should be about?
Peter Wolfram Peter Wolfram Tuesday, October 23, 2012 8:46:45 AM very bad
Dayonne Dullaghan Dayonne Dullaghan Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:55:23 AM Good God we are all going to die......... really!
Amy Kelley-Gill Amy Kelley-Gill Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:02:10 AM Sounds like being a police officer in MI is going to be exhausting! This does not sound Beneficial or safe! I would love to see how this works!
Theresa Fluty Mulhern Theresa Fluty Mulhern Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:19:33 AM No way that can work!!!!
Theresa Fluty Mulhern Theresa Fluty Mulhern Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:21:33 AM I can't imagine our officers taking a fire run.....
Curtis St John Curtis St John Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:31:08 AM Bad idea!
Jim Lorenz Jim Lorenz Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:24:28 PM Who directs traffic at a major fire?
Jim Lorenz Jim Lorenz Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:27:02 PM A.C. wanted to cross train skilled trades. Bad Idea because off all the training for each trade. Office people just don't get it.
Joseph J Hans Joseph J Hans Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:30:46 PM Some MI towns, cities and villages have public safety already - like Rosemont. Budgets what more is their to say.
Edward M. Violett Edward M. Violett Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:32:08 PM Larry, I agree with you. After seeing the Dallas Forth Worth Airport I can see that this is and never will be a good idea. Having been both a firefighter and a police officer I can tell you that you can only do one or the other. But never both and for the major reason of saftey. The amount of training that both jobs require just to stay current prohibits this type of a department.
Steve Steffgen Steve Steffgen Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:07:05 PM So... FD can merge with EMS and it's ok, but the moment PD tries to take FD, it's "Oh noes, no one can do 2 different jobs well!"? Good. I hope they take over FD and do to them what FD is doing to EMS, dumbing it down to pad your budgets.
Steve Steffgen Steve Steffgen Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:09:03 PM Great idea! Now FD gets tossed on them what they've done to EMS for decades. If FD is against this, every reason they come up with will be hypocritical and the exact opposite of the reasons why they say they should take over EMS. I hope it passes.
Jeremy Duyck Jeremy Duyck Wednesday, October 24, 2012 10:52:15 PM DISLIKE!!
Steve Steffgen Steve Steffgen Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:10:03 AM Ha, you would Jeremy ;)
Charles Gluck Charles Gluck Saturday, November 10, 2012 1:51:08 PM Steve, your a dope. We were doing EMS before you even knew what that meant. We provide better jobs and working conditions for those medics we hired. Or did you like working 12 hours for min wage? As for dumbing? Some of the medic's I met were not the best firefighters. So there is a compromise.
Steve Steffgen Steve Steffgen Saturday, November 10, 2012 2:04:10 PM Who cares if they weren't the best firefighters? Medicine and spraying water on hot stuff don't have anything in common. FD needs to stay away from EMS, just like PD needs to stay away from FD.
Charles Gluck Charles Gluck Sunday, November 11, 2012 6:01:04 AM I really like talking to morons like you. You have no clue as to what EMS is. The proof is in the history of this evolution. It has not and will not work long term. It has nothing to do with EMS. Why do you insist on beating this "dead horse"?
Steve Steffgen Steve Steffgen Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:42:06 AM Moron? You're the one who can't distinguish the difference between "your" and "you're". Funny how you say I have no clue to what EMS is (funny, since I'm a Paramedic), yet you won't say what it is.
Charles Gluck Charles Gluck Sunday, November 11, 2012 3:52:59 PM Steve, why the vendetta against the Fire Dept. Somebody spank your butt, that happen to be a firefighters? You have nothing but jealousy in your responses. Kind of cowardly, little buddy....

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