Firefighting cuts will put public at risk: union boss
Chris Fox, cp24.com
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2013 11:42AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2013 3:28PM EST
The elimination of 101 front-line firefighting positions will hurt response times and put city residents increasingly at risk, warns the president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association.
Ed Kennedy made the comment Wednesday morning in front of a Huron Street home that was the site of a fatal fire in 2011.
“These moves are irresponsible and dangerous,” Kennedy said. “Put simply these cuts will impact our ability to protect the people of Toronto.”
The city’s proposed budget would close Fire Station 424 in the Runnymede area, take five trucks out of service and permanently eliminate 101 positions that have been vacant since October 2011.
Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales has previously said the cuts would have a “marginal impact” on response times, but on Wednesday Kennedy lashed out at that assessment in a one-on-one interview with CP24.
“In our business marginal impact means more property loss, more injuries and possibly more deaths. That’s totally unacceptable,” Kennedy said. “This is about the people and their safety.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Kennedy urged city residents to take their concerns over the proposed firefighting cuts to their local councillor.
“The city is not listening, so it has come to this,” he said. “We would rather not be here having this conversation but for over 100 years it has been our job to protect the people of Toronto. We don’t intend to stop now.”
Speaking with CP24, Coun. Adam Vaughan said the city should delay the cuts until a report on emergency services that they had commissioned is in their hands.
“This is typical of the Ford administration. They make the cut first and then they study the situation later,” Vaughan said. “ We are paying consultants a lot of money to tell us how to build emergency services for the next century, we are about to get that report in a month and before we get that report the mayor wants to eliminate 101 positions and close a fire station. We need to take a deep breath and get back into thinking about things and making the right kind of decisions about a strategy for public safety in this city.”
City council is expected to vote on the budget Jan. 15 to 17.
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Firefighters' Association president Ed Kennedy speaks at a press conference in Toronto, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2012.