Tensions in Warren heat up over controversial proposal - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Tensions in Warren heat up over controversial proposal

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WARREN, Ohio -

Tensions are heating up between Warren city leaders and firefighters over a proposal to reduce three fire captains through attrition.

Both sides of the issue agree safety is the top priority but, what they can't agree on is if the elimination of the high ranking positions will hurt or help safety forces.

"No, I couldn't think of how safety would be impacted," said Chief Ken Nussle in response to the proposal that would save the city about $370,000.

"We were bleeding and now we get the tax passed, here we are getting ready to rehire and we come at it with this," said Union President John Jerina.

"We cannot afford to sit on our hands and knees and think that everything is hunky-dorey because the citizens said yes, we have to be vigilant and that was my charge," said Mayor Doug Franklin.

Franklin says with the savings the city could hire more entry-level positions and still come out on top financially. 

Although, that's not mentioned in the legislation.

"I told you, the goal is if you reduce a captain to add firefighters. That's the goal," said Franklin.

Firefighters with at least five years of experience could then be trained to do inspection work, currently done by captains.

But, city leaders admit the added duties wouldn't mean more pay.

"They're not experienced enough for full pay until they have six years on but, they're experienced enough with five years on to be the second most important person on the fire scene," said Lt. Joe Deuble.

And on the scene, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Monrean argues training isn't always an equivalent to experience which is often tied to rank.

"That may be just a talking point at this table but, out there, what I do, that really matters. It matters for my men for their safety and it matters for the safety of our citizens," said Monrean.

Council members say they will take their time reviewing the proposal and say a decision likely won't be made until after the new year.

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