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Mayor Cranley declares state of emergency due to impact of COVID-19 on staffing at Cincinnati Fire Department

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 1:27 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says the rise in COVID-19 cases has created staffing challenges for the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Cranley says Chief Michael Washington asked for the state of emergency so he can take all necessary steps to provide full fire service in the coming weeks.

“I hereby declare that the extremely rapid increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the Cincinnati region during this holiday season and, specifically the resulting impact on fire department staffing levels constitutes a public danger and fire-safety emergency that, if unaddressed, would cause staffing shortages that would substantially undermine the City’s firefighting and first responder readiness levels,” the declaration reads.

Mayor Cranley tells FOX19 NOW says the decision behind the declaration is also about making sure the city manager and fire chief can ensure the department is fully staffed.

“I declared the emergency in part to let everyone know once again that this is a serious crisis and that people should monitor their own personal health risk,” Cranley explained. “But to also give the chief and city manager the tools they need to require overtime and do things are necessary to make sure that we are fully staffed.”

The declaration allows the city manager to take all necessary steps to protect the people and property within the city.

“The City Manager may take such actions consistent with law as are necessary to ensure necessary staffing of the City’s fire stations including, without limitation, the temporary suspension of applicable City rules or personnel policies to address the public emergency,” it reads.

As of Wednesday, the Cincinnati Fire Department has 796 firefighters. Twelve of the firefighters will be retiring within the next eight weeks.

Mayor Cranley says he briefed Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval and that Pureval recommended that the order follow the customary duration of 60 days which will extend into his term.

“I continue to urge everyone to exercise caution this holiday season. Please get vaccinated and continue to practice COVID-19 safety protocols,” Cranley said.

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