N.Y. fire department cuts ambulance transport overtime by half with new hospital opening
Since the early October opening of Lockport Memorial Hospital, weekly overtime costs for patient transport have dropped from an average of $6,500 to $3,000 or less
By Benjamin Joe
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, N.Y.
LOCKPORT, N.Y. â€” Average weekly overtime spending on Lockport Fire Departmentâ€™s ambulance transport service has been reduced by half, according to Fire Chief Luca Quagliano.
Prior to the early October opening of Lockport Memorial Hospital, weekly overtime spent transporting patients to the next closest hospital averaged about $6,500. Since the opening, that average has fallen to $3,000 or less per week, Quagliano said Tuesday.
Those figures were confirmed by city finance director Tim Russo, who further said the grand total of overtime associated with out-of-town ambulance transport service, from mid February through the end of October, was $202,900 for 1,898 hours. In the same time period, Russo said, the city collected $436,000 for ambulance transport services.
Overall overtime spending by LFD is not coming down as much, Quagliano said. During July, August and September, overtime spending ranged between $100,000 and $120,000 per month. In October, the expense was less, about $90,000, due to fewer out-of-town ambulance transports.
Beginning this month, Quagliano said, overall LFD overtime should be reduced by 25% to 30% per month, or approximately $67,000, as three newly hired firefighters â€” Victor Aikin, Stephanie Senn and Rafael Telemin-Cruz â€” begin filling shifts in the next two to three weeks.
Mayor Michelle Romanâ€™s recommended 2024 city budget, which is up for a vote by the Common Council tonight, shows an LFD overtime line of $500,000 for the year. Also on the spending side, the budget shows addition of four more firefighters, Romanâ€™s argument being that those hires will reduce the need for overtime call-ins.
In 2023, $760,000 is budgeted for LFD overtime, $400,000 of which was added at mid-year. Unexpected additional revenue was transferred to the overtime budget line, according to Russo.
Supposing four more firefighter posts are approved for 2024, LFDâ€™s overall overtime spending should drop by next June, after the four hires finish training at the state Fire Academy, Quagliano said. The next academy session starts in February.
Ultimately, up to six new hires could be sent to the academy next year. In addition to the aforementioned four, Quagliano said he will pitch one or two additional hires to cover an anticipated retirement and a possible vacancy due to a workerâ€™s compensation claim. A recruit was injured at the Fire Academy earlier this year and currently is not working.
(c)2023 the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, N.Y.)
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