Duluth Fire Union: Budget Cuts Will Compromise Safety, Services

DULUTH, Minn. — Duluth Firefighters Local 101 is speaking out against budget cuts they say are being ordered by Mayor Emily Larson.

Union V.P. Pete Johnson said the cuts will “have a negative impact on our firefighters’ safety and their ability to provide the level of service that the citizens of Duluth deserve.”

The department is being asked to cut $72,000.  Johnson said that will mean a drop in daily staffing levels from 36 to 35 firefighters on duty. He said three of the department’s fire trucks already don’t meet the minimum national staffing standard of four firefighters per rig to make entry into a burning building.

Below is the full statement sent to FOX 21 Sunday by Local 101:

“The budget cuts being ordered by Mayor Larson will have a negative impact on our firefighters’ safety and their ability to provide the level of service that the citizens of Duluth deserve.

The biggest impacts will come when the daily staffing level drops from 36 to 35 firefighters on-duty. The Duluth Fire Department already has three trucks that do not meet the minimum national standard — four firefighters is the minimum needed to make entry into a burning building — and these budget cuts will make the problem worse. When seconds count, this understaffing will potentially require firefighters in half of the fire districts across the City to wait for a second fire truck to arrive before they can enter the building to fight the fire. Additionally, the fire department will no longer increase staffing for events such as Grandma’s Marathon and Fourth Fest. This means eliminating the placement of an additional fire truck on Park Point during these events. The congestion during such events will cause extreme delays in response from other stations around the City. The placement of a fire truck during large events was a commitment made to the people that live on Park Point when their fire station was closed in 2012.

The dedicated men and women that put on the uniform every day are already facing higher risks of cancer, heart disease, and suicide; these cuts add an additional and unnecessary layer of risk to an already dangerous profession. For the sake of the citizens and our firefighters, the Duluth Professional Fire Fighters Local 101 implores the Mayor and the City Council to resolve this issue as soon as possible.


Pete Johnson

Vice President

IAFF Local 101”

The Duluth Fire Department isn’t the only department being asked to make cuts. Departments city wide are affected.

The city’s chief administrative officer, Noah Schuchman said the cuts are necessary because the council didn’t accept Mayor Larson’s full levy proposal late last year.

Schuchman’s full statement Saturday reads:

“In December of 2022, the City Council adopted a budget that decreased the Mayor’s proposed 2023 budget by one levy point, or approximately $383,000. Individual departments across the City are working through the process of identifying budget savings to meet that amount. Departments are also working diligently to ensure the impact to City services are as minimal as possible.”

Over the weekend, FOX 21 requested budget cut amounts for each city department.  We’ll bring you that information when we receive it.

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