With no apparent resolution to labor negotiations aimed at scaring up extra money, the City of Tacoma plans to move ahead with an unpopular plan to reduce fire department service in the Proctor district and on the East Side this week.
Fire Chief Jim Duggan said Friday that changes at Station 13 in Proctor and Station 15 on the East Side – among the cuts dealt the department by a $63 million city budget shortfall – will take effect Tuesday. The closure of the city’s only fire station in the Port of Tacoma, also part of the city’s budget plan, will happen after the Murray Morgan Bridge reopens in the coming weeks.
City sources had said last month that the Proctor and port stations might be spared, pending the outcome of negotiations over potential concessions from Tacoma’s fire union. City officials would not comment on the status of those negotiations Friday, saying only that they are ongoing. Ryan Mudie, president of Tacoma Fire Union Local 31, said the union made the city an offer more than two weeks ago, but hasn’t yet received a response.
The City Council is scheduled to meet in closed session Tuesday about unspecified labor negotiations. Later that afternoon, union representatives will meet with the city’s labor negotiators, Mudie said Saturday.
Duggan said that at least some of the cuts could be easily undone if money-saving concessions are approved after Tuesday.
The city’s budget assumes, in addition to the closure of Station 6 in the port, the deactivation of Station 13′s fire engine and reduced staff and hours. Two firefighters will staff the Proctor station from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. with an emergency response vehicle equipped with medical supplies and some firefighting tools but no pump, hose or water tank. The station will not be staffed overnight, when other city fire stations will serve the district.
On the East Side, Station 15 at East 64th Street and McKinley Avenue also is losing its active fire engine and one firefighter, although it will remain staffed around the clock. City sources cited last month did not name it as a potential recipient of possible savings on labor costs.