Mark Dayton's budget would save Minneapolis firefighters from layoffs

Firefighters could still be laid off if LGA takes a hit in the final budget.

Firefighters could still be laid off if LGA takes a hit in the final budget.

If the state budget proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton today were to pass, Minneapolis firefighters could avoid layoffs this year.

Last fall, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said the city would be forced to lay off firefighters to make ends meet if the next governor proposed cutting Local Government Aid.

Dayton's plan would keep LGA intact, meaning the city would be able to achieve cuts through attrition and retiring incentives, according to Rybak's plan.


While the firefighters' jobs are safe now, they could still see layoffs later this year. Dayton's budget plan looks very different from the cuts proposed by House and Senate Republicans last month, which would slice up LGA and mean eight firefighter layoffs in Minneapolis.

Depending on what actually passes the Legislature, it's very possible LGA could still take a hit.

If this happens, the city will "react accordingly," says Rybak spokesman John Stiles.

Budget cuts have long been a problem with the Minneapolis Fire Department. The department has lost both resources and manpower over the years, leaving it below industry standard in some measures.

Reid Wilson, vice president of Minneapolis's fire union, says a house fire this weekend in southwest Minneapolis illustrates how cuts in past years have affected the department's performance.

On Saturday, a fire started in the basement of a house near the corner of Beard Avenue South and 54th Street West. The fire worked its way up the conduits of the house and spread to the floor above, making it a second-alarm blaze.

Dayton's proposal would shelter LGA from cuts.

Dayton's proposal would shelter LGA from cuts.

Wilson says the fire may have been contained in the basement if the search-and-rescue rig didn't have to come all the way from Fourth Avenue South and 38th Street East.

"The faster we get there, the more times we put the fire out in the room of origin," says Wilson. "This truck company took over 12 minutes to get there. That means there was nobody in there doing a search and rescue."

Up until this year, a search-and-rescue rig was parked at a station just a couple of miles away, says Wilson. It was moved in an attempt to place limited resources in the areas they will be most effective.

No one was injured, but Wilson says it's a safe bet that the house sustained more damage than it would have if the fire had been contained in the basement.

"To be clear, this is not on the fire administration," says Wilson. "They're making due with what they're given. And it's the politicians in the city that are deciding to limit the amount of resources the fire department has."