The instance I’m going to speak of might seem petty to some, but in these tight budget times it is a costly perk of the job that really adds up. The situation I am referring to is firemen going to the grocery store to buy food for their meals using not only the city’s fire truck to get there, but also doing it while on paid duty working for the city.
Let’s look at the possible average cost of this activity to the city over a year: A crew of three firemen, each a different rank and pay level, go to the store for groceries. Furthermore, let us surmise that this errand takes 45 minutes from the time they leave the station until they return. For the three-person crew, this equates to 2 hours and 15 minutes of working hours to go grocery shopping daily.
If this is done 365 days a year it would equate to our heroic firemen spending 820 cumulative man hours annually going to the grocery store for their food for their shift. Even though we don’t know for sure what their hourly compensation is, let us say $10 an hour per person, for argument’s sake. If that is the case, then just for the man hours spent grocery shopping it would cost the city $24,600 annually for grocery shopping for one fire station. Multiply that figure by the number of fire stations in the city and you will find that grocery shopping alone costs a pretty hefty sum.
The other part of this equation is that they are taking the company car — their fire truck — to the grocery shopping spree. What does that cost the city? I’ve learned that a fire truck is usually replaced after about 90,000 miles of usage. If the trip to the grocery is a round trip of, say, three miles, then over the course of a year the firemen would drive 1,095 miles for grocery trips alone. In 10 years, it would equate to 10 percent of the cost of a new fire truck.
Granted, the firemen are on call while they are on their grocery trip and actually I have seen them literally drop their cart and run off to respond to a fire. Well, bravo! What a bunch of heroes. Aren’t they swell? I’m sorry to see them have to forgo their grocery trip for a fire call.
All of us have needed to eat during our work day. Few of us have been on the job for a full day at a time, but for those long days on the job we worked out who would bring what for our meals and we got by just fine. We did it just fine in the Boy Scouts just for openers.
Firemen are supposedly noted for their organization and preparedness, so why can’t they organize their meals better and not have to use the city’s nickel to prepare their food? Real heroes can do it.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.