Last week, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel presented an eye-opening report to the Minneapolis City Counsel regarding the cost associated with the department’s workers’ compensation claims. Fruetel reported that since 2012 the cost of workers’ compensation benefits paid by the City has nearly doubled from previous years—to $2.4 million per year. According to Mark Lakosky, the president of the Minneapolis Firefighters Union Local 82, these injuries are the direct result of budget cuts. While budget cuts have decreased staffing, the volume of emergency calls has increased, resulting in fewer firefighters responding to fires and other emergency calls. This under-staffing, in turn, has put tremendous stress on the firefighters, resulting in more work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims. By way of example, a study conducted by the Seattle Fire Department found that firefighter injuries declined by 35 percent when the department increased its staffing from three to four people.
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