Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg agreed to reduce staffing at only 23 engine companies as opposed to the original estimate of over 50. The original plan was strongly contested by unions, who argued that reduced staffing would pose a safety threat to firefighters. The mayor feels that his new plan is a good compromise between the need to balance financial and safety concerns. Even with the new scaled down plan, the mayor still expects to save about $13 million per year. Another obstacle to cutting costs that has yet to be fully resolved is relatively high sick leave levels, which lead to increased spending on overtime pay.
See Michael Cooper, The New York Times, June 3, 2003