Reorganizing Newburgh FD does not mean layoff, says city manager

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Newburgh Fire Department ladder truck.

NEWBURGH – A reorganization of shift response in the Newburgh City Fire Department does not mean there will be staff reductions, but is aimed at bringing down the $1.7 million in annual overtime incurred, City Manager Todd Venning said.

He spelled out the plans to a session of the city council Monday night, noting they stemmed from an accounting firm’s audit of the department.

Venning said the modifications will not mean layoffs.

“First, it’s a change to the number of apparatuses we will use for anything other than a second or third alarm, only if a shift falls below 10 members; 10 members assigned, 10 members show up, the chief is operating three apparatuses. Secondly, it’s a change on how we call back for overtime,” he said.

If the plan doesn’t work, “we can always change it back,” Venning said.

He said additional firefighters does not necessarily mean less overtime, which was borne out in 2019 when the city had 15 more staff and OT was still high.

The city manager expects to implement the new plan on Saturday, January 15.

Venning said Newburgh has the only career fire department immediate area. That is not accurate – the Air National Guard at Stewart Airport and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point both have full-time career fire department, which are often called upon to assist Newburgh with major fires.