Pretty soon there will be more police officers, firefighters, paramedics and building inspectors on the ground in Pittsburgh.
Mayor Bill Peduto announced this week he has authorized one class of police officers to begin training in March followed by another class in the fall, with the possibility of a third, one class of firefighters to begin as soon as possible and the hiring of more paramedics.
“Right now, at this moment, we need police officers, we need firefighters, we need medics and we need building inspectors,” Peduto said. “We’re making that our priority for hiring.”
Five new building inspectors will be hired as soon as possible, according to Peduto.
“A lot of economic development projects have been put on hold or are being delayed as people wait for an inspector to be able to do the necessary work,” he said. “This not only has a direct effect on public safety, but it also has an effect on our economic development within the city.”
There are 614 firefighters currently working and 53 vacancies.
“People ask why we need more firefighters, well all you have to do is look at the budget and see how much we’re paying in overtime for the firefighters that are there,” Peduto said. “This is not only a budgetary issue but you also don’t want people burned out or tired to then be reporting to emergencies.”
Peduto said for the police, the goal is to get to 900 officers. Looking further into the future, efforts will continue to attract more women and minorities to the force. Peduto said one possibility is to implement training academies starting in high school for students who have an interest in becoming public safety officers.
“Working with them on part-time employment programs, creating opportunities for them to get their 60 credits either through CCAC or the Pittsburgh Promise, and then giving them an opportunity to go into the academy to become police officers, to become firefighters,” Peduto said.
The addition of ranks in public safety will not have an adverse effect on the city’s budget. Peduto said the full complement of police and fire is already budgeted.