Budget Cuts In Store For Chicago Fire Department

CHICAGO (CBS) — Major budget cuts being planned for Chicago’s Fire Department could lead to fewer firehouses, fewer firefighters, or both.

The choices facing Mayor Emanuel’s new fire commissioner aren’t pleasant, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

There are 96 fire houses spread all over the city. Some are big, multi-truck stations, while others are small one-door affairs, like the legendary Waveland Avenue house across the street from Wrigley Field.

It’s one of 11 single-truck stations that fire department sources say are “old, inefficient and going away.”

It won’t be without a fight.

Thirty-sixth Ward Ald. Nick Sposato is on leave from active duty as a Chicago firefighter. He’s aware but opposes cost-cutting alternatives like shutting down five or six firehouses and transferring firefighters to replace retirees elsewhere. The moves would cost taxpayers an estimated $15 million a year.

“I would think it would not be possible to close firehouses that keep the same level of safety for the citizens of Chicago,” Sposato says.

Merging slower houses like Wilson Avenue in Uptown with others would reduce the number of fire houses and firefighters on duty the same way the ranks of police officers and police stations have been cut. Instead, Sposato points to a decade old study which found the department top-heavy.

“There’s a lot of chiefs on the job,” he says.

Retiring commissioner Bob Hoff made big cuts in top management but left untouched some unusual benefits, such as “duty availability pay” to make up for unusual hours. That costs taxpayers an estimated 15 million a year.

A clothing allowance, mainly for cleaning uniforms, costs $5 million a year.

And specialty pay, for hazmat, medical and diver training, boosts salaries 5 percent each.

“We have all have a lot of ideas but we can’t share them now,” firefighter union president Tom Ryan tells Levine.

No one disputes the fact that firefighters have difficult and dangerous jobs, risking their lives to save others. But neither they nor anyone else will escape the mayor’s budget cutting juggernaut, which is certain to make upcoming contract talks very difficult.

More from Jay Levine
  • RedAfro

    HAHAHA Rahm don’t give a rats ass about safety this mad man is all about the dollar. Something better happen fast to recall him or Chicago is going to erupt in to hell! and I can see this mad man raising his hands as moses did but only in laughter at the destruction before him. Rahm is the Antichrist from Revelations.

  • 77's Mom

    Along with police, fire and other city services remember to cut the teachers. The Teachers Union has bullied the city for decades with their threat to strike. Now there demanding a 30% raise ! It should be MANDATORY to test teachers EVERY YEAR in regards to the grade level they teach. Residency should be looked a a bit closer.

    • chuck

      Yeah cut everything so this city falls apart? teachers too? who make hardly anything?…you obviously have no clue what your talking about.

    • SMZ

      WRONG 77’s Mom…..Rahm and Brizard want the teachers to work a 30% longer day with NO PAY and higher healthcare costs, so in effect a pay cut. Would YOU agree to work a 30% longer day for less money than YOU make now? Yah, I didn’t think so.


    instead of cutting pensions of blue collar workers and destroying public safety, why doesnt the mayor take a peek at the hundreds of aldermans that do nothing throughout the city. this guy is a complete joke

    • Jake

      Hundreds? there’s only 50.

      • Greg

        Yeah and 33 out of the 50 went to prison under the Daley administration, along with two governors.

  • RedAfro

    Rahm wants Armageddon so he can go in to the history books, and be more famous then Guiliani. Rahm is a H!tler people he has gone mad

  • chuck

    This city has seen some bad days but this mayor we have is horrible. What happens when there isnt enough police…enough firemen…enough teachers….less police stations…less firehouses…less schools??????? Its a city doomed to fail……..and for all of the people out there that think his cuts are good and just??? …..remember this………..what happens when you call for police? for a fireman? that arn’t there? you get NO RESPONSE!! DONT BLAME THE POLICE OR THE FIREMEN!! blame yourselves for electing this guy! Not the blue collar workers!

  • 38Special

    Customer Stops Grocery Store Robbery By Shooting Suspect, Police Say

    Read more: http://www.wisn.com/news/30338153/detail.html#ixzz1mhel5vLc

  • Civilized

    Lots of ignorant comments on here from the usual uneducated fools. Toots, this city does have too many Alderman but it doesn’t have “hundreds” of them. Also, It’s Aldermen, not aldermans. Please, go back and to 3rd grade and learn to speak and write proper English.

    Anyway, CFD is no more special than CPD or any other city department and should be subjected to the same belt tigntening as everyone else. My neighbor, when I was growing up, was a Fireman and he used to tell me of all the perks he received and how he and fellow Firefigthers basically did nothing for most of their time. Like many Firemen, he also had a part-time job where he was making extra money on the side. My point is, I know there are areas within CFD where lots of waste occurs. Finding those waste and cutting them will not be the end of the world.

    • chuck

      Your neighbor obviously wasnt a full time single parent with two kids like I am! My kids are my side job! Shame on you! Sure back in the day things were different….but its not back in the day. And there arnt “those jobs” to go to work for on the side anymore. Make cuts at your place of work not mine! You like everyone else who doesnt understand the need for fire and police in your community will be the first one crying “where are they at” when you need us most. Unfortunately your as uneducated as the rest

      • Afro

        Chuck I agree 100% and with all of the money that Rahm is wringing out of everyone shows nothing but greed, he really needs to be stopped. it’s not about being over taxed and it’s not about all of the cuts, it’s everything to do with Rahm being a mad man out of control and out to destroy the city. Rahm is placing such a burden on everyone that it is turning everyone against each other, he is what is wrong with Chicago today. The people needs to pull together and fight back, the Aldermen are nothing but his little puppets they have abandon the people for this insane madman and if the Aldermen don’t like it they can get out too the people have to make a stand.

      • B

        bobbo who’s fault is it you can’t spell?

      • bobbo

        whose fault is it that you arte a single psrent not the taxpaer

      • chuck

        Hey bobbo…Maybe you need to grow some NUTS and talk about the real deal going on here……This isnt about being a single parent…its about budget cuts….these cuts affect every police/fire/teacher in the city of chicago. I have been a Chicago Fireman for 16yrs…..I dont have the luxury of having two incomes, so I am against any cuts going on with this city.

    • Estty

      You are the ignorant one. My husband risks his life for ignorant people like you.

  • Afro

    I hope the Feds wake up because Rahm Emanuel is going to be the start of the next civil war and Chicago is about to become the battle field. People can starve to death with their children and he don’t show any compassion. People are being attacked, beaten and robbed in thier own homes and all Rahm can do is spend tax dollars in lost court cases.

    Earlier this month, the city of Chicago wrote a check for $399,950 to the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights group located in Bellevue, Wash. The check was a reimbursement for legal fees the foundation incurred in the McDonald v. Chicago case, which resulted in the United States Supreme Court overturning the city’s ban on handguns.

    “The city lost that action,”

    Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/City-Writes-399950-Check-To-Gun-Rights-Group-138940944.html#ixzz1mi8jpvZI

    • chuck

      Thanks Afro! and I completely agree with you…..its always been the case with this city…..they pay who they want when they want. The bottom line is the money is there, they just pick and choose who gets it. They leased the Chicago Skyway….how many millions did they get or was it a Billion?…..parking meters….how many millions did they get? They spend millions on “city beautification” flower pots…planters…..really?? How about the G8 coming up? the city gets millions for hosting it!!! where is all the money going????? I havent seen one alderman take a cut? and this mayor worth all his money isnt taking a cut?….. I thought Daley was bad….kind of wish we had him back…..the lesser of two evils

      • Midwest Vet

        You know what Chuck? It’s a very sad day when people start thinking their last dictator was for freedom.

  • Afro

    I’m Glad the city of Chicago has the money to throw away on these court cases Chicago lost by the way lol.

  • DD


    • Jerry

      No I didn’t vote in your election, I wasn’t invited, I don’t live in Chicago but I see your Mayor has no problem trying to run my life down here so yeah I’m gonna have my say since I couldn’t have the chance to vote him out of legislature. He comes out of Chicago against the rest of the state he is fair game.

    • chuck

      I voted! and not for this mayor we have now! So you think the votes are what got him his position? really? You dont find it strange that Bill Daley ” ex mayors brother” got Rahm’s position in Washington as soon as Rahm got in office here? This was all planned out……its called “politics”…..the vote had nothing to do with it.

    • Jake

      The ones complaining the most the are the old scool fireman/police/teachers and union folks who are getting hit with the cuts. Can’t blame them I guess, but they really need to get with the times.

      • chuck

        The ones complaining the most? What “old school firemen/police/teachers”??…if you havent noticed there arnt many left from the “old school” era…. how about the cuts affect every single one of us firemen and police and public service employees!! Once they make cuts to any of us then they move on to the next…then the next…then whats left? complete priviatization of the whole system? get with what times? Maybe you need to do a little more research about everything going on in the City of Chicago.

  • Are you kidding me?

    Are you kidding me? If anything the mayor should build new firehouses and move all these single engine companies into new firehouses in the same district which house a ALS engine, ALS ladder truck, and ALS ambulance! All of which provide proper personnel with training of firefighter/paramedic engineer, haz-mat operations, and specialty skills like the rest of the suburbs do. The extra pay we receive goes to being accountable and available for major incidents, so we don’t have another GREAT CHICAGO FIRE or worse than 9/11. You want to cut those, fine, but realize none of us work private industry where you BANK MORE THAN YOU SHOULD! We don’t making millions of dollars like those that do in private industry. We get what is fair! That’s all. So if you expect to be safe in your house not not worry about nasty things that your mayor and presidents are doing to you I would personally write a letter to every politician in your city to increase training, staffing and equipment. Because G8 and NATO are coming may which means protesters devastate any response time and and its not gonna be OUR fault that it was out of our reach or handle because of so called budget cuts. So believe it or not, I PRAY for your loved one or family or whoever gets hurt or injured and waits as long as humanly possible because we are so broke to remove fire companies or ambulances or police so that it takes more than 1 hour to transport them to the nearby hospital. Everyone things its a joke until their own life or close by relatives gets harmed by lack of resources. Think for a minute before you even try to react. So many of you make much more than we do in state and federal positions.

  • Are you kidding me?


  • saywhat3


  • saywhat3

    When he was running for office. Rahm spent more time at El stations than a CTA employee,shaking every hand he could. I bet he won’t go near an El station now.

  • MF

    Check your facts Mr. Levine.

    That firehouse on Wilson is one of the busiest in the city. Truck 22, stationed there, is within the top five of the busiest trucks citywide every year.

    In 2008, the companies there responded to a total of 15,220 calls.

    Hardly a slow house, by any stretch of the imagination.

  • da truth,over by dere

    this move will raise your insurance rates for your homes and businesses!

  • Bill

    EMS is UP and Fires are DOWN.Every FIrefighter should be cross-trained as Paramedic/firefighters to give the citizens better bang for the buck.We need more “Danny Boy favorite son squads” strategically located to augment manpower wherever it’s needed.All members of these squads should have all specialty training available including paramedic training.No more EMT’s in name only.Just like in the fire prevention bureau,if your a firefighter,you belong on a fire company.As for all the chiefs and others with EMT incentive pay,you should actually function as one to get the pay.Cut back on the many chief political reward positions.30 plus years ago,when there were many more fires,the CFD got by with only 3 Division Marshalls quite well.Too many deputies now.After you get done gutting the Top Heavy positions on the Fire Department,go after the TOP HEAVY ALDERMEN positions.311 has replaced my alderman.

    • da truth,over by dere

      all new hires as firefighters have to be emt’s.anyone hired before 2006 does not have to be an emt, like it or not.you are correct about the TOP HEAVY BRASS and fire runs being down,however the fires today burn hotter and faster then those 30 yrs ago.if the 5th man is lost it will one day cost a firefighter or citizen their life,its just a matter of time.cut aldermen down to 25 and then we can talk about closing firehouses! and yes the cfd needs more ALS ambo’s.

  • Mike

    “Merging slower houses like the one on Wilson Ave in Uptown” Slower houses????? Engine 83, Truck 22 and Ambo 31 are some of the busiest companies in the City of Chicago. Truck 22 is the 2nd busiest truck in the country.

  • Mike

    PS That “slower house” rescued a person trapped by fire this morning at 1217 W. Lawrence Ave. Make sure you close them right away and cut their manning……..

    • southside firefighter

      great job by my brothers on the northside!

  • Michele

    Hey Jay, you need to study up before you post a story! That slow house on Wilson ave? Ambulance 31 at that location is ranked # 11 out of 60 ALS ambulances in the city. And Truck 22 is the second busiest truck in the COUNTRY. Get it right, We need more ALS ambulances in this city.

  • Monica

    This is what happens when you all keep voting for crooked politicians! Rahm gets in and he doesn’t even have a “”legal residence”, Oh I used to work for the polls. In my area and others near me Chico was ahead but Rahm was the winner before all the votes were counted for! He’s going to tear the city apart! First Daley sells parts of the City and now Rham is going to dismantle it! Lets get rid of the adlermen and cut pays of the elected officials first! They keep giving themselves great benefits at our expense and knock out the blue collar workers! Keep voting the way you do Chicago and soon we will be Detroit!

    • chuck

      Agreed with completely Monica!! Chicago will be the next Detroit for sure if it keeps going the way it is!!

  • Tony

    This money that is given to Firefighters is not costing tax payers a penny, it is money funded by the federal government, maybe he should get his facts straight. If they are so concerned about budget cuts why don’t they look into Chicago Aldermen. Top paid Aldermen make $183,836 which includes the expense account and can retire with a FULL PENSION after 1 year. So now I ask you Mr. Aldermen, News Reporter, Senator, Congressman, and all other politicians, when your family is sick and in need of Immediate MEDICAL care, or your house is on FIRE and your family is trapped, or one of your family members are raped, beaten, or even murdered. Who are you going to call to help you? The Mayor? The Governor? Chuck Goudie NO you will call 911 because that is what you the TAX PAYERS pay us for, our help. They wanna talk about duty and tech a checks, well they should look a little deeper and see that the money used to pay us for that is funded by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT not the tax payers of Chicago. I would love to ask these people why don’t you give up your pension, OR ELIMINATE THOSE EXTRA POLITICIANS for the greater good.

  • Annie

    First the Police Department and now the Fire Department. It’s outrages–leave them alone!! I am glad my conscious is clear–I voted for Chico!

    Both department serve & protect. What part of serve & protect do you not understand Mr Mayor??

  • Tony

    It is absolute BS, if Rahm is so concerned about the City then would he be willing to give up his pay, he is a multi-millionare. He don’t need it, if he is so concerned about money why dont he give up his pension? They attack Teachers, Fire and Police and for what reason? Because we are an “EASY” target for them, right? Do you think news reporters would give up there pensions or any perks they get HELL NO!!!!What about the politicians would they give up anything, NOT A CHANCE and why, because they are Greedy and only look out for themselves. Come election time we need a HUGE CHANGE. ILLINOIS is so corrupt it makes me sick. For the people on here talking in favor of Politicians, Reporters, etc… just want attention because they have no clue as to what is even going on.

  • Nicole

    It is absolute BS, if Rahm is so concerned about the City then would he be willing to give up his pay, he is a multi-millionare. He don’t need it, if he is so concerned about money why dont he give up his pension? They attack Teachers, Fire and Police and for what reason? Because we are an “EASY” target for them, right? Do you think news reporters would give up there pensions or any perks they get HELL NO!!!!What about the politicians would they give up anything, NOT A CHANCE and why, because they are Greedy and only look out for themselves. Come election time we need a HUGE CHANGE. ILLINOIS is so corrupt it makes me sick. For the people on here talking in favor of Politicians, Reporters, etc… just want attention because they have no clue as to what is even going on.

    • Bill T.

      Wow, Nicole, You’ve said exactly the same thing Tony said. What are the odds of that happening?

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