The first New Orleans firefighters were furloughed on Sunday under a plan requiring six unpaid days off by the end of the year to help stem a precipitous decline in city sales tax revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.
The city’s furlough requires almost all 4,700 employees to take the six unpaid days, including police, firefighters and other safety workers, reducing their salaries by about 10% and saving the city $6 million. But firefighters say it comes at the cost of public safety and the safety of firefighters.
The firefighters’ union said Sunday the impacts of the furloughs are already being felt. Three trucks were out of service on Sunday because firefighters had to be moved around to fill shifts elsewhere. While only about 13 people at the department were furloughed on Sunday, prior staffing issues left the NOFD with only about 110 on duty out of about 153 the union considers necessary to be fully staffed, said Aaron Mischler, the union president.