Despite the beginning of the new fiscal year, the commissioner of the Fire Brigade Alberto Cruz Albarrán, is still unclear on how much money he will have to recruit personnel to help mitigate a deficiency of 389 in the agency staff.
The official said he also does not know how much money he will have to pay an accumulation of overtime that the agency owes a year and a half ago to firefighters. Both lines of the Bureau's budget are part of the discussions held by the Department of Public Security with the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF).
In an interview with El Nuevo Día, the official explained that the Fire Bureau aspires to fill the minus 200 seats during this fiscal year, but the JSF allocated funds to fill 160 seats. Last fiscal year, firefighters could not be hired, but 39 who were in transitional status were given permanent positions.
"We asked for 200, but they gave us around 160 … apparently they will agree to give us that amount, "he said, referring to 100% of the petition.
The commissioner accepted that not filling the number of positions needed affects the work of the negotiated party.
" It creates a situation, of course it creates it. We are going to have turns of work in which they will have to double hours. The firefighter is going to get tired because he will have to do more hours of work and he is going to create a situation for us. We are going to try to fulfill everything, because it is our ministerial duty, but we do have the need for personnel, "he said.
Regarding the payment of overtime, Cruz Albarrán indicated that in the budget that the JSF imposed on July 1, there was no provision for this expense. In fact, the official indicated that only overtime, accumulated in time and a half, is paid to firefighters who have exceeded the accumulated 480 hours and that there is a delay of two and a half years in the disbursement of those payments owed to firefighters.  "We were not assigned money for that line. The request was made now using as base the overtime paid during Hurricane Maria, which was $ 1.6 million," said Cruz Albarrán.
Last fiscal year, firefighters were honored with a monthly salary increase of $ 125, and another identical increase takes effect this fiscal year.
Since the beginning of the four-year period, 11 new trucks have been purchased and 17 are under construction. , of which five will arrive on the island in October. In addition, six smaller trucks have been acquired, ideal for neighborhoods and urban areas.
Yesterday, in an activity in the Barceloneta Pump Park, 155 Autonomous Breathing equipment, 204 compressed air tanks and 445 masks were delivered. In total, the investment was $ 1.1 million. In addition, 32 light vehicles were purchased to be assigned to various divisions of the Fire Department at a cost of $ 975,676.