From the Daily News:
Staffing at dozens of the city's busiest FDNY engine companies will be cut due to rising numbers of firefighters calling in sick, the Fire Department announced Tuesday.
The 12-month average of firefighters taking medical leave hit 7.53% at the Dec. 1 deadline, just exceeding the 7.5% contractual threshold that lets Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta cut staffing.
Effective Wednesday, the number of firefighters on 49 engine companies will be reduced from five to four.
FDNY officials have estimated the cuts - first reported in Monday's Daily News - would save the department $500,000 a month in overtime needed to cover shifts left open by sick firefighters.
Additionally, officials said that staffing a fifth firefighter on those 49 engine companies costs approximately $20 million annually.
The city's fire unions have repeatedly denounced the FDNY's threats to cut staffing, claiming the department's internal studies have shown that five-man crews work 50% more efficiently than their four-man counterparts.
The staffing change means that only 11 engine companies - units with some of the city's heaviest workloads - will have five men onboard, officials said. The other 183 will only have four.