Lateral Academy For Long Beach Fire Department Announced

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opens lateral academyWith pension reform recently enacted, the City of Long Beach is announcing a lateral academy for the Long Beach Fire Department to replenish fire staffing and to reduce the reliance on long-term callback overtime.

“A lateral academy is good for our community, good for our Fire Department, and would be a fiscally prudent solution of hiring needed firefighters while living within our means,” Mayor Bob Foster said.

The Fire Department currently has 24 firefighter vacancies, which are filled on a daily basis with existing firefighters through callback overtime. The recent pension reform agreement with the Long Beach Firefighters Association enables the City to once again hire firefighters and reduce the reliance on callback overtime. An analysis of the City’s current fire staffing needs, future attrition and potential future budget challenges shows that an academy can be held today without negative consequences in the future.

“Maintaining full staffing is important, and we are able to accomplish this within our existing budget.” said Fire Chief Alan Patalano. “We will start the processes to hire new firefighters immediately, with the goal of completing the academy this summer.”

Previously trained, experienced, and qualified firefighters from other agencies can complete a lateral academy in eight weeks, whereas a standard recruit academy lasts 16 weeks. A lateral academy could start in about four months and is already included in the Fire Department’s FY 2012 budget. New firefighters will come into the City under the new pension reform agreement, paying their full employee share of pension costs and at a reduced pension benefit formula that is more fiscally sustainable.

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