Cincinnati mayor declares state of emergency due to low firefighter staffing

A Cincinnati fire truck. WCPO/CONTRIBUTED

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A Cincinnati fire truck. WCPO/CONTRIBUTED

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has made a declaration of emergency due to low staffing among Cincinnati firefighters.

A press statement from the mayor’s office said staffing is dangerously low due to a combination of holiday leave and COVID-19 infections among the department.

“I hereby declare that the extremely rapid increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the Cincinnati region this holiday season, and specifically, the resulting impact on fire department staffing levels, constitutes a public danger and fire-safety emergency,” Cranley said in the release. “As testified to by city’s fire chief, where the combination of scheduled holiday leave and rising levels of COVID-19 quarantines make the fire department vulnerable to staffing shortages that would substantially impair the city’s ability to protect the lives and property of Cincinnatians.”

Cranley said the impact of COVID-19 on staffing levels constitutes a public danger.

“If unaddressed, (the) staffing shortages would substantially undermine the city’s fire-fighting and first-responder readiness levels,” Cranley said.

The statement said the declaration is limited to the fire department and gives City Manager Paula Boggs Muething power to insure necessary staffing levels at the city’s fire stations including “the temporary suspension of applicable city rules or personnel policies to address the public emergency.”

The omicron variant has led to a large increase in COVID-19 infections in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said active cases in the county had grown from 9,000 last week to around 11,700 cases this week.

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