Newport News firefighters bring concerns to City Council

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) — Unsafe staffing policies, mandatory overtime, and salary issues are just some of the issues Newport News firefighters will bring before city council Tuesday night.

Eleven-year employee David Gourley said fire departments across the country are stretched thin. Gourley and other local firefighters are asking city leaders to hear their concerns to retain people. One problem involves the department’s mandatory overtime policy.

"I feel like it’s going to be a snowball effect. You’re gonna force people to work overtime so it’s going to make people mad and they are going to leave to go to a city that doesn’t do that," said Gourley.

Gourley said for some this policy puts a strain on their families, and has created a culture where higher paid and more experienced workers are being looked over.

"You’re telling a guy that has 25 years in that no you can’t work we are putting this other guy that has six years. They are skipping the officers to save money," said Gourley.

The President of the Newport News Firefighters Association Local 794, Donnie Lewis said, he met with the city manager about the issue and a possible compromise but to no avail.

"The city is not supporting their firefighters and putting the public at risk with their policies of forcing firefighters to work mandatory overtime and putting fire trucks out of service while relying on Hampton Fire Department to pick up the slack," said Lewis.

13News Now reached out to the City’s spokesperson about the issue, but she was unable to provide a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Gourley and other firefighters will head to the city council meeting tonight in hopes of finally being heard.

"We understand the budgetary constraints. We know money is an issue but staffings an issue across the country. So these band-aids are not going to fix the problem, get something to retain people, make people want to come to Newport News Fire and stay with Newport News Fire," said Gourley.

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