OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWTI) — Staffing minimums have been decreased as the City of Ogdensburg Fire Department.

Ogdensburg City Manager and Fire Chief Stephen P. Jellie confirmed in a press release that the City’s Fire Department has reduced its minimum daily staffing to three personnel.

This change, as stated by Jellie was due to the City’s inability to afford higher levels of staffing based on IAFF Local 1799 and Union requirements.

According to Jellie, the average cost of a firefighter exceeds $140,000, which is the highest cost of all employee groups in Ogdensburg. Additionally, firefighters pay a minimum of 8% towards healthcare, and personnel are receiving $6 per hour hazard pay.

“The City cannot continue to spend more on public safety than it does on all other departments and programs and in general the City cannot ever return to spending more money than it takes in,” Jellie said in a press release.”

Jellie said that he is aiming to have a daily minimum of up to four personnel, ultimately working towards five. But he said that the City of Ogdensburg cannot afford that level of staffing until negotiations are made to reduce firefighter benefits.

He then called on the IAFF Local 1799 President Jason Bouchard to discuss requirements and the City’s finances.

“The City of Ogdensburg cannot afford to continue the exorbitant perks demanded by IAFF Local 1799 and to maintain the level of staffing desired by the Union,” Jellie said.

“As City Manager,  I call on IAFF Local 1799 President Jason Bouchard to resist the pressure he is feeling from his former mentors and State Union Officials and schedule a meeting to discuss how to work collectively to insure the City remains financially strong,” he added.

The daily minimum staffing at the Ogdensburg Fire Department was reduced to three personnel on January 9, 2022, following direction by City Manager Jellie.