Toronto councillor calls fire service cuts 'despicable'
A decision by Toronto city council to take four local fire trucks off the road and close down a fire station in the west end of the city has sparked concern among local residents.
Council voted to close Fire Station 424, located on Runnymede Road near Annette Street, and remove four fire trucks from service in the city in an effort to save money.
The other three fire trucks being axed by the city are located in Scarborough – at fire stations 213 (7 Lapsley Rd.) and 215 (5318 Lawrence Ave. E.) – and at Fire Station 413 in Rexdale (1549 Albion Rd.).
Eighty-four firefighters affected by the cutbacks will be moved to other stations across the city.
The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (TPFFA) has said the cuts would increase emergency response times, and jeopardize the safety of area residents.
Local resident Ericka Wagner said she was concerned by the decision to officially close the station early Monday morning.
“I’m completely shocked, I walk by this fire station every day,” Wagner told CP24.
“I just moved into the area and I kind of picked this neighbourhood for this fire station – I really liked that there was one so close,” she said.
When asked about the budget constraints that motivated the closures, Wagner replied, “I’m sure Rob Ford could take a pay cut.”
Station Captain Henry Mommo said he is sad to see his fire station close down, but he can’t do much about the city’s decision.
“It’s an odd feeling, I can’t really describe it. It’s a bit of history. I’m sorry for the neighbourhood, but that’s what they’ve decided to do,” Mommo told CP24.
Meanwhile, local councillor Sarah Doucette said the closure was an outrage.
“This is despicable, it’s premature, the station should not be losing its truck today,” she told CP24.
Many councillors have noted that there are already three fire stations within a two kilometre radius of the fire hall that can help serve the local community, but Doucette said that is of little comfort to local residents.
“Wouldn’t you rather have a station where you could almost see it? All our stations help other stations, so when we have big fires, whether it’s in our ward or outside our ward, our trucks go. “
“Shutting down a station like this and removing this truck, it’s not right,” she added.
The TPFFA said the cuts would only save average taxpayers "a measly two cents a day" while potentially risking their safety.
"Starting Monday, it will take fire fighters longer to reach addresses in the event of fires, medical emergencies such as heart attacks and other emergencies such as vehicle accidents where victims may be trapped and require extraction, due to the decommissioning of four truck trucks," TPFFA said in statement.
Before Fire Station 424 was closed Monday, someone placed a sign on the front door of the building that read “Closed by Rob Ford,” apparently blaming the mayor for the closure.
With files from CP24