Ogdensburg’s city manager allows hiring of 2 new firefighters

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - During Monday night’s Ogdensburg City Council meeting, City Manager Mohideen Buharie announced he will let the fire department hire two more people and said the city’s legal team approved the move.

“I firmly believe that this move is necessary to improve the staff morale, enhance fire safety and ultimately save the overtime and minimum staffing clause costs,” he said.

The move will increase fire department personnel from 17 to 19.

Councillor Mike Powers tells 7 News Buharie explained to council behind closed doors that the city’s attorney okayed the move.

It comes after a 10-year staffing analysis was presented to council last week. It found the department’s current staffing level was “unsustainable”.

The report said 8 hires, bringing the ranks up to 25 firefighters, would be best, but Fire Chief Ken Stull said he’d be happy with 4, which the report said would save the city more than $200,000 in the next year.

Last week, it became obvious a motion to hire 4 firefighters didn’t have support, so Buharie took matters into his own hands. Councillor Dan Skamperle feels it was the right move.

“The fact that he went for 2 instead of 4 right now may illustrate a little bit of strategy here with that and I think he is going to do right by the city. I think this move does right by the city,” he said.

Buharie said during the meeting he hopes the fire union sees this as a “goodwill gesture” for future contract negotiations.

In response, union President Jason Bouchard said, “It is truly refreshing to see an Ogdensburg City Manager seize the opportunity to provide the citizens with increased fire protection at a lesser cost to taxpayers. These hires will not only help reduce firefighter fatigue; but also better allow Ogdensburg firefighters to honor the oath we pledged to protect the city.”

Mayor Mike Skelly didn’t return our calls for comment.