Vacant house arsons drop for third straight year in Youngstown
The number of vacant- house fires has dropped in the city for the third straight year.
Statistics provided by the fire department's Fire Investigation Unit show Youngstown recorded 98 arsons at vacant houses in 2014, a drop from 112 in 2013. In 2012, the city recorded 162 fires at vacant homes.
Capt. Alvin Ware, who heads the FIU, said the main reason for the decrease is because the city has become much more aggressive in recent years in getting rid of vacant homes.
"Council and the administration are getting more demolition done," Ware said. "That’s the main reason."
Vindicator files show that in the last few years more than 3,500 homes in the city have been razed through demolition.
Ware said the highest concentration of arsons last year was on the South Side, which has been true for previous years. He said the East Side used to have a lot of house arsons, but those fires have died down in recent years as the vacant houses have been torn down. Ware said this denies arsonists an opportunity.
Statistics show there were 43 arsons on the South Side in 2014, with 36 on the East Side, 17 on the North Side and two on the West Side.
Ware said because of the circumstances surrounding most arsons, it is a hard crime to prosecute.
"They always happen in the dark, and there's usually no one around," Ware said.
June, July and August were the busiest months for vacant-house arsons, with 16, 12 and 11 respectively. January had the fewest - only one, and that was Jan. 31.
Ware said one category that dropped dramatically was vehicle arsons, as the department handled 33 in 2014. He said most vehicle arsons involve stolen vehicles, but now, because of new anti-theft devices, vehicles are harder to steal.
Typically a stolen car is stripped for parts and then burned to destroy any evidence.
Also, in the past, the city was plagued by serial arsonists, who were lured by the number of vacant homes in the city. Ware said he has not had a serial arsonist case in several years.
Molotov cocktail tossed through window as Youngstown family slept
A Youngstown woman tells police that she and her four children were sleeping at their South Side home when someone threw a firebomb through the bedroom window.
The 40-year-old resident of the home on the 3500 block of DeSoto Avenue says she was sleeping in the living room early Wednesday morning when she was awakened by the sound of breaking glass.
On the floor of the back bedroom, the woman found a broken 40 ounce beer bottle that had been filled with gasoline. There was a burned out white rag stuffed into the neck of the bottle.
Investigators say the flame burned out before starting a fire.
Neither the woman, nor any of her children, ages 3,5,11 and 16, were injured.
The woman told police she didn't see anyone and had no suspects in mind.
The family spent the night at another home for their safety.
The investigation continues.
Council closes deal on firefighters contract
Youngstown City Council approved a new firefighters union contract that includes a pay raise.
Firefighters get a two and a half percent pay raise immediately and an additional one percent in January 2016.
It was a tough struggle to reach a deal. Firefighters rejected a deal in September over health care benefits, but now they have new contract until 2017.
Union President David Cook, IAFF Local 312, said members had gone years without an increase in pay.
"Neither side is jumping for joy over it, but it is satisfactory and it was settled on our own without going to binding arbitration, which is always a huge cost for both parties," Cook said. "It's a relief that our membership approved it. It's something that, obviously, they accept. And as a negotiating committee, it's always good to come back with something that's approved by your membership.”
The firefighters' new contract will also remove caps on their contributions to health-care premiums. That will start in June 2016.
Youngstown, firefighters inch closer to deal
The City of Youngstown is a step closer to reaching labor peace with its firefighters.
A tentative contract was reached with the emergency personnel, who said the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of it.
The deal would run through mid-2017, and Youngstown city council is expected to vote on it next week.
Union Firefighters rejected another offer in September and had been working under a contract extension.
Youngstown firefighters' union approves new contract
The city's firefighters union approved a contract that includes salary increases of 2.5 percent that kicks in later this month and 1 percent next January, and removes caps on their contributions to health-care premiums starting in June 2016.
The contract, approved by a 70-7 vote by the union Wednesday, is similar to one rejected 91-6 by the union in September.
The primary reason the proposal was turned down four months ago was the removal of the caps.
Firefighters, like other city employees, contribute 10 percent of their health-care premiums, but the caps had them paying no more than $100 a month for single coverage and $200 for family coverage.
Every other union in the city - except the police patrol officers who had their contract settled through binding arbitration - has agreed to the health-care caps.
The original proposal had the removal of the caps take effect in September 2015. This new deal has the caps removal take effect in June 2016.
Council will vote Wednesday on the contract and the board of control will do the same a day later.