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Cincinnati mayor declares state of emergency over fire department staffing

Mayor John Cranley made the announcement after a request from Cincinnati FD Chief Michael A. Washington Sr.

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By Rachel Engel

CINCINNATI — The mayor of Cincinnati declared a state of emergency on Wednesday over staffing levels at the city fire department, CNN reported.

The announcement came at the urging of Cincinnati Fire Department Chief Michael A. Washington Sr., after an increase in COVID-19 cases has kept dozens of firefighters from their shifts.

“There are 27 firefighters out with COVID-19 right now and an additional 20 who are out sick,” said Yasmin Chilton, a city spokesperson. “There are 774 firefighters total on staff.”

The declaration will allow emergency measures to be taken by the department, such as the suspension of scheduled vacations and the possibility of mandatory overtime.

Without those stop-gap measures, current staffing levels would “substantially undermine” first responder readiness.

“The rise in cases has created staffing challenges for the fire department; however, public safety and the delivery of basic services remain our top priority,” Cranley said.