OFD Requests Support of Charter Amendment 27

Dennis Kim, Oberlin Fire Department

To the Editors:

On behalf of your Oberlin firefighters, we respectfully ask for your support for Charter Amendment 27, an amendment to Section XIX of the City of Oberlin Charter that will be presented on the Nov. 4 election ballot. This proposed change was submitted on behalf of the fire department, as it would authorize Oberlin City Council to consider the hiring of your part-time firefighters through the unclassified service rather than the current classified service used by Civil Service.

Your part-time firefighters are the essential core of the city’s ability to provide fire and rescue service to the community. It is their professional service that assures that the department can accommodate our community’s needs, including fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, technical rescue (confined space, trench/ building collapse), fire prevention, public safety education, fire investigation, emergency management and homeland security.

In the past, there was not much difficulty in attracting and retaining part-time employees. However, with changes in personal life styles and the amount of time dedicated to family and the workplace, it has become more difficult to attract and hire replacement part-time personnel. For many years, civil service testing was the norm for hiring city employees. But with the advent of the city’s Human Resources Department, most employees are now hired through a more streamlined, efficient and fast process. In fact, all other part-time city employees are hired through this process. Delays in replacing firefighters place an undue burden and stress on the remaining personnel and can hamper their ability to provide those community services.

The proposed charter amendment does not immediately change the classification of part-time firefighters but would permit our City Council and administration to enter discussion on the benefits to that change and make a critical change if deemed necessary. If this amendment is not adopted, the ability to replace firefighters will remain hampered by an unnecessarily long hiring process and crucial positions may continue unfilled.

May we count on your support of this amendment and our staffing needs? Please vote FOR Charter Amendment 27.

–Dennis Kim

Oberlin Fire Department