If you ever thought your job was bad, it could be worse. You could work in East Cleveland, Ohio.
According to an article on cleveland.com, East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer wants firefighters there to assist public works crews in cutting lawns and working in parks.
"We have 54 firefighters, and they have a lot of downtime," Mayor Eric Brewer said Thursday. "Instead of sitting around the station, they'll be assisting us as we beautify the city."
Ken Adams, Deputy Safety Director says "The new duties are similar to other non-fire-related tasks performed by firefighters, such as checking hydrants, conducting fire inspections or visiting schools."
Excuse me, Mr. Adams, but these ARE fire-related duties--and more important than cutting grass. As a matter of fact, according to the East Cleveland web site, the fire department also has a free smoke detector program and a child seat safety program.
In my experience, decisions such as this are made from a lack of knowledge of what firefighters do and are often based on the false stereotype that firefighters sit around the station all day and watch television.
The union believes that the lawn mowing duties may prevent them from hearing their radios and decrease response time. I'm not sure that is a strong enough statement. The lawn mowing duties cause a critical distraction away from (call me crazy, now) fighting and preventing fires!
Looking at response numbers on the East Cleveland unofficial web site, the fire department gets its share of jobs--both fire and EMS. It appears that they are working quite diligently for their money.
I spent some time looking at the web site for Mayor Brewer. He has some high hopes for East Cleveland. Sounds like a shaker and mover may be necessary for the City of East Cleveland. On his web site the Mayor says his "main goal is to take East Cleveland from “poverty to prosperity” during his term in office. Beefing up the city’s service and police departments are vital to his plans, along with eliminating waste and mismanagement, and increasing employee productivity."
Well, although I don't agree with the plan, at least he is one politician who keeps his word.
Mayor Brewer was also quoted on cleveland.com as saying (in reference to mowing):
"Actually, that looks like fun," he said. "I might get out there and cut some grass myself."
I hope he keeps his word there, too. And gets the firefighters off lawn mowers and back where they belong.