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Our Opinion: Council made good call on fire department schedule

Published 10:05am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It is always a welcome development when good sense reigns, as was the case at Monday evening’s city council meeting when a majority of council members gave the fire chief tacit permission to actually run his department.

At issue was a long-standing question of how best to schedule firefighters. In the normal course of events, one would expect a key department head to evaluate staffing needs and budget limitations, and set up schedules to accommodate both. For some reason, as has often been the case with the Austin Fire Department, the issue became fodder for a city council decision. Why any council members think they know better how to run a fire department than a seasoned, professional chief is hard to understand. As we have noted before, council members would probably know better than to believe they could instruct an engineer on how to build a bridge. Nevertheless, the question of firefighter schedules came to the council, and eventually to a vote; council members Janet Anderson, Steve King, Judy Enright and Jeremy Carolan agreed with the chief’s scheduling plan.

That a simple question of how best to schedule firefighters can even become a council matter suggest a weakness in the city’s organization – one that has been noted before in regards to the Fire Department. It is to be hoped Monday night’s decisions represents a trend towards elected officials letting the chief do his job. It’s the council’s job to set budgets and policy, not to micromanage details.

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  • Inny

    They might not tell the engineer how to build the bridge. But they may insist he uses his best, highest paid employees on the job. Or at least have them near the project, or in town, or know where they are.

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    • 55912

      If the employees are scheduled to be at work, then they should be at work…if not it is none of the engineer’s business where they are. Firefighters are no different.

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  • mjbass

    My thoughts exactly. Nicely put.

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  • mjbass

    Very well put Opinion article. It has to make you wonder what priorities are with some some council members who feel they were blind-sided by a request that his been brought to the city for years? Stop being a victim and go to work progressing the city of Austin.

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