Local News

February 24, 2013

City fire budget compared to similar communities


Plattsburgh operates one ambulance daily.


In Ogdensburg, the Fire Department has 29 paid firefighters covering a smaller city of 11,128 people. 

Outgoing Chief Steve Badlam said the department runs platoons of seven per shift on 10- and 14-hour shifts, with one 24-hour shift per month.

Starting firefighters there earn $26,782, and the highest paid gets $49,855, both lower than in Plattsburgh.

As far as revenue, the department brings in about $10,000 per year from fire inspections at local businesses.

The crews do respond to emergencies with EMTs, but the local volunteer ambulance company does the transports, so the Fire Department gets no revenue.

The budget for the Ogdensburg Fire Department is about $2.8 million, the largest in that city.

“They (City Council) look at us all the time,” Badlam said.


The Oneonta Fire Department covers the city, population 13,843 in 2011, and also the Town of Oneonta, except for West Oneonta.

It provides ambulance coverage to the entire city and town, a total of 26 square miles.

The department’s budget was slightly more than $3 million in 2012. 

Oneonta has 28 paid firefighters, including the chief, assistant chief and four captains.

Firefighter salaries range from $32,557 (a little higher than Plattsburgh) to $54,908 for the highest-paid captain (lower than Plattsburgh’stopsalary).

Crews work 24-hour shifts, followed by three days off. Twelve part-time firefighters serve in an on-call capacity. 

That mix of full- and part-time employees has been in place for 30 years, Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon said.

“It works well for us,” he said.


Since Donald Kasprzak became mayor in 2007, he and the Common Council have worked to lower costs in the City Fire Department.

Staffing levels have been reduced to near the minimum of 36. The council has also sought different health-insurance plans to save money and has moved some training to in-house.

It’s not much of a secret that Kasprzak is not a big fan of the Plattsburgh Permanent Firefighters Association’s contract, which he views as too worker-friendly.

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