Firefighters, residents address Muskegon city leaders about fire department staffing issues

MUSKEGON, Mich. --  Staffing shortages in the Muskegon Fire Department have been an ongoing issue, and Tuesday evening  they issue was addressed at the city commission meeting.

Financial issues have been causing a strain between firefighters and city leaders. The problem started last June, when the city cut nearly $900,000 from the department's budget.

During Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Frank Peterson cited a rise in pension costs and too much overtime as sources of the budget problem. He presented his findings during the meeting and explained what he hopes to achieve with cuts.

But members of the union say it's causing a strain on the department, which has has to call in other organizations to help them respond to fires. Union president Chris Drake called on the community to show up to Tuesday's meeting, and many of them spoke during public comment.

“Think about your firefighters, because they would do anything to support you. So, why don’t you support them?” asked one resident.

The mayor says the council will assess the city manager's presentation.

The current collective bargaining agreement between the city and fire department expires at the end of the year. Both sides are hoping to reach an agreement before then.