There might be fewer firefighters on the streets in Cudahy in December after the fire department blew through its overtime budget and is faced with impending staffing reductions.
The acting union president declined an interview, but posted on social media that the situation “creates a potentially dangerous situation for our citizens and the firefighters who make a career of being there for them.”
Cudahy Mayor John Hohenfeldt does not think the cuts are a public safety issue.
“We’re going to do whatever we have to do to keep the citizens of our community safe,” Hohenfeldt said.
Hohenfeldt said it’s unique to have two firehouses in a city the size of Cudahy. He said Station 1 might be forced to close two to three times this month.
“It isn’t even days, it may be a matter of one shift, a half of shift, depending upon staffing levels,” said Hohenfeldt.
But the union president claims the number is closer to 9 times, which is one reason why Ald. Justin Moralez wants to help the fire department with funding.
“Within the last five years of me sitting on the council, I can remember personally two major home fires that displaced families on Christmas Eve. It just happens to be the time when there’s a lot of Christmas lighting, Christmas trees, candles,” Moralez said.
The mayor said the fire department is over $30,000 on its overtime budget.
“I took a resolution to the council to transfer money out of contingency. The council decided not to take that transfer so that is what it is,” Hohenfeldt said.
Moralez was the only council member who voted to help find the fire department funds elsewhere.
“It was ultimately decided by the remaining members of the council just to essentially jam the Fire Department and make them still live within the means that they were dictated to do,” Moralez said.
The cuts will be temporary, until the end of the year.