Wage dispute could suspend San Francisco Fire Department services 

Neighborhood fire stations could lose service if firefighters refuse to give up their scheduled wage increases, fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said Wednesday.

Mayor Ed Lee’s budget proposal closed a $306 million shortfall, but it assumed the firefighters union will agree to forgo a $9 million wage hike its members are due on July 1.

But as the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee reviewed the Fire Department’s budget Wednesday, firefighters have yet to agree to give up their pay raises.

“My feeling is if that is not resolved, there would have to be some serious operational decisions made, which would include potential brownouts,” Hayes-White said during the hearing.

“I’m optimistic that we are going to get there, but I have to tell you that labor and the department of human resources are not there yet. There are discussions ongoing,” she said.

In April, the department selected four stations it said would have the least impact if their engine companies were not in use. They are Engine 2 on Powell Street, Engine 5 on Turk and Webster streets, Engine 14 in the Richmond and Engine 7 in the Mission.

“It would be an engine company, one unit out of that station. So the station would still be up and running, but it would not have that resource working that day,” she said.

The “brownout” of one engine company would save $2.5 million.

“Hopefully we don’t have to go there because I don’t think that’s a good solution for any of us,” Hayes-White said.
Labor, Hayes-White and city officials met late in the day Wednesday to continue discussions on the wages.

The budget committee is reviewing all city departments’ budget proposals. Hearings will continue today and Friday, and into next week.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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