CSFD projected budget shortfall impacting department

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The Colorado Springs Firefighters Union says the Colorado Springs Fire Department is cutting back services because of a budget shortfall.

The Union posted the information on Facebook on Friday. The post says that a funding error has created a projected budget shortfall of up to $1.5 million.

The post also says the Fire Chief Ted Collas is making cuts to the department including:
"• Shutting down a vital Advanced Life Support Paramedic unit on the Southeast side of town (Squad 11, Jet Wing and Academy). This shut down reduces the available Advanced Life Support coverage for that area of town and will increase response times during medical emergencies.
• Removing essential staff personnel from their positions such as Captain of Emergency Management, Training Division Captain, Medical Lieutenant, and Public Information Officer and placing these members back on fire trucks
• Cancelling mandated training for specialized personnel (i.e. Hazardous Materials)
• Cancelling fall Paramedic School for firefighters seeking to become Advanced Life Support providers for the community, and therefore hindering the department’s ability to recover from a continued Paramedic shortage."

This city provided the following information to 11 News as a statement from Fire Chief Ted Collas:
On Sept. 4, the CSFD finance staff informed me that they had run projections which indicated that the fire department would significantly exceed its budgeted funds if changes were not implemented. In short, our 2019 expenditures would have outpaced our $76 million allocated budget by a little more than $1 million.

To avoid a budget shortfall by the end of this year, I worked with key staff members to immediately implement initial changes. Since those initial changes were made, CSFD staff has developed further solutions, ensuring we will be able to end the year within our allotted budget.

This issue is limited to CSFD. Our funding has not changed or been reduced. We are still on track to add the additional 32 firefighters over a four year period, which is part of Mayor Suthers’ public safety staffing initiative that began in 2018.

As of today, these are the solutions we have implemented:

·All resources have been removed from consideration for out-of-state wildland fire deployments for the remainder of the year

·Return of six staff personnel to the line, four have been transferred, with two more scheduled to occur by mid-October

·All travel/conferences suspended

·The five firefighters enrolled in fall paramedic school will be required to return to duty each day after class

·Current Recruit Training Academy will be shortened by two weeks

Initially, one of the solutions was to temporarily suspend responses by Squad 11, located at Jet Wing Drive and South Academy Boulevard. During that brief period, all responses were handled by Engine 11. After meeting with Mayor Suthers today, it was decided that Squad 11’s response will resume, effective tomorrow morning, Saturday, Sept. 14.

I want residents of Colorado Springs to know, that CSFD will continue to provide the highest level of problem solving, fire and emergency services to our community in spite of this issue. The firefighters of this department are dedicated to the safety and well-being of this community, and as your Fire Chief, this issue is my responsibility.