Kettering to hire 13 firefighters in 2017

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Crews move in to new Kettering fire departments

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The city of Kettering will be adding 13 new full-time firefighter positions in 2017 in an effort to reduce overtime costs.

“With these new hires, we are able to have a substantial change and reduction in overtime,” City Manager Mark Schwieterman said.

RELATED: Payroll project: Kettering firefighters cash in on OT

The city is already in the hiring process and hopes to have all 13 positions filled by early April.

Kettering has an estimated budget of $14.1 million devoted to the fire department in 2017. That includes $800,000 toward the new fire positions and accounts for nearly 20 percent of the city’s entire operating budget. Fire Chief Tom Butts said creating 13 new positions will offset the part-time positions the department is struggling to fill as well as reduce the mandatory overtime.

The department has spent nearly $900,000 of overtime to the full-timers in 2016 because of a lack part-timers needed to fill the voids in staffing.

The fire department will also create four new management-level positions from their current firefighter staff and continue with its part-time program.

“They’re an asset to the department and city,” Butts said of part-timers. “We will still aggressively recruit part-time firefighters and try to maintain our level of part-time firefighters. If we were able to maintain a vigorous pool of part-time members, we wouldn’t have spent any of that in overtime (in 2016).”

In March, the Dayton Daily News found that six of Kettering’s 11 highest-paid employees in 2015 were firefighters, a result of the city having to get rid of volunteer firefighters and cut the hours of part-timers to comply with federal healthcare mandates.

Kettering and the fire department conducted a study to help them determine what it would take to fill positions, what the cost would be and whether those costs would be preferred to overtime.

RELATED: Kettering’s newest fire station also headquarters

As the department gears up for an increase in staff, it will simultaneously welcome new fire stations as part of the $29.6 million project that strategically places four new stations throughout the city. Butts said the addition of the new stations is not directly tied to the creation of the new positions and comes as a result of a four-station plan developed in 2006.

“We have to fill so many positions a day to protect city and have a response model that our city deserves and expects day in and day out,” Butts said.

Kettering has two fully functional fire stations, in Fire Stations 32 and 36. Fire Station 36, located at 4745 Hempstead Rd., opened in September and will serve as fire headquarters. Station 34 is currently under construction, and the department hopes to move into that station near the fall of 2017.

The fourth station, Station 37, is currently in the design process with hopes of beginning construction in 2017.

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