officials are continuing that left the department with a barebones staff.
This weekend, for the second time since late March, Grosse Pointe Woods called in extra public safety officers to work overtime after the Harper Woods Fire Department was without any firefighters due to an illness, Grosse Pointe Woods City Administrator Al Fincham said Monday.
The bill for the overtime officers, who were brought in to ensure continued presense of police in Grosse Pointe Woods should a fire run be necessary in Harper Woods, has already been sent to Harper Woods, Fincham said.
Thankfully, Fincham said, there were no fires on Saturday. While the low-staffing at the Harper Woods Fire Department is of concern to the Pointes because of the mutual aid agreement among the six communities, it is especially relevant to the closest Pointe--Grosse Pointe Woods.
Fincham said since layoffs that left the department with seven firefighters--two of whom are out on injury leaves of absence--Grosse Pointe Woods firefighters have responded to four to five fires in Harper Woods and spent about five hours working those scenes.
In all of those situtions, the fires were to an extent that would have necessesitated Grosse Pointe Woods' response anyway, Fincham said. So the layoffs have not cost Grosse Pointe Woods thus far since the extra manpower is being paid for by Harper Woods.
Fincham said this is only the second time he recalls having a station unmanned for an entire day since 1973--when he began with the public safety departments of the Grosse Pointes.
The only other time is the day after the layoffs were handed down by Harper Woods officials in late March--during which the same procedure was followed--Grosse Pointe Woods called in extra officers for overtime to "boost shift strength," Fincham said.
Low-staffing has impacted Grosse Pointe Woods in that they respond to any fire run in Harper Woods as a precaution. The staffing levels in Harper Woods are lower than what is required to actually fight a fire safely by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. MIOSHA requires a minimum of four firefighters to respond to any fire before the fighting can begin. The law is intended to protect the safety of the firefighters.
The day before and the day after were staffed with one firefighter, Fincham said. Staffing levels, to Fincham's understanding, had increased as of Monday in Harper Woods because the cross-trained police officers were being utilized to supplement the firefighting staff.
The cross-trained police officers are what keeps Harper Woods abiding by its end of the mutual aid agreement, Fincham explained to Patch earlier this year, because they are allowed to fight fires outside of their municipality just not within under the court order issued.
Fincham said in April, he was hopeful the low-staffing issue would only be short term issue.