N.O. firefighters' union to protest Landrieu's 2014 budget - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

N.O. firefighters' union to protest Landrieu's 2014 budget

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NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Fire Fighters Association says Mayor Mitch Landrieu's 2014 budget proposal will again leave the department understaffed, and they're planning to speak out in protest Friday morning.

The Association is organizing the rally that will be held immediately before the City Council meets to discuss Landrieu's spending plan.

While the proposed budget calls for about a $1.3 million increase for the fire department, union leaders say it's not enough to bring manpower levels back up.

"In some cases, as many as 65-70 percent of our fleet are running understaffed, which puts the citizens in danger, as well as the firefighter's life in danger," said NOFFA President Nick Felton.

Felton said the decreases in staffing have led to violations of national safety standards. On Friday, he'll make a presentation before the City Council in hopes of securing more money for the fire department.

"We are losing our best and our brightest from company officers to chief officers," he said. "The morale of the fire department is extremely low. We're doing more with less. We were up to close to 800 people the day Katrina hit. We are now down to 670."

The mayor's budget calls for five new police recruit classes - a move Felton applauds. However, he said the fire department needs a manpower boost of its own. According to Felton, the NOFD hasn't had a recruit class since 2010.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mayor Landrieu wrote:

"The Administration continues to fund NOFD to ensure strong fire protection for the entire New Orleans community. This year the department kept response times consistent and significantly reduced the number of firefighter injuries because of better training. The proposed 2014 budget increases the NOFD's personnel budget by more than $1 million."

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