Firefighters: Staffing Cuts A Matter Of Life & Death

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Firefighter unions are trying to reverse a cost-cutting measure that would thin staffing levels at 60 New York City firehouses starting Tuesday.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association have filed an action with the city’s Office of Collective Bargaining seeking to keep staffing at the current level.

UFA President Steve Cassidy told reporters including 1010 WINS’ Al Jones the cuts will result in “more injuries for firefighters, more injuries and/or deaths for civilians.”

1010 WINS’ Al Jones speaks with firefighters union president Steve Cassidy

Under an agreement that expires Monday, 60 engine companies in the busiest city areas have five-person crews. The rest have four-person crews.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano says all engines will be staffed with four firefighters and one lieutenant beginning Tuesday. He says the FDNY just recorded “the fewest fire deaths on record” and has the fastest response time ever.

The unions say the changes could result in trapped or unconscious people not being found in fires and argued they would double the amount of time needed to get water on a fire.

“One thing is certain, we will have larger, expansive fires,” Cassidy said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that if the city loses the lawsuit, he believes it “would have to close firehouses.”

“The fire department is going to have to spend less money just like police and sanitation and corrections and everything else,” Bloomberg said.

There was mixed reaction Monday in neighborhoods that would be directly affected by the changes.

“It’s understandable that someone’s staff as well as the fire department, which was built up over the years, has to take a hit along with everyone else,” one Chelsea resident told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

“Our state’s in a lot of trouble right now so I’m sure they’re trying to find ways to get rid of some expensive employees,” one woman said adding she was “a little skeptical” about the move.

Think the FDNY is getting the short end of the stick on this one? What about city residents? Let us know what you think in our comments section below.

More from Al Jones
  • Henry

    Whoever thinks firefighters and police officers are overpaid or receive too many benefits, feel free to take the next test. These jobs are available to EVERYONE.

  • Matt

    Firefighters DO pay into their pensions!!! Please refrain from making comments that are not factual.
    Firefighters DO shovel out hydrants 6 hours each day.
    Firefighters work 24 hour shifts, it is quite difficult for 11-14 adult men to “brown bag” their meals. The vast majority of the time firefighters pick up their meals when returning from an emergency or returning from their building inspection period.
    It is inconceivable how much public perception of the FDNY has changed, after 9/11 people realized how selfless these men and women
    really are. With time how easily we forget how 343 gave their lives to save tens of thousands
    one day.
    Overpaid? Anyone willing to walk into hell to save the life of a complete stranger is underpaid in my opinion…

  • Mr. Armenia

    stop responding to 911 mcdonalds calls

  • Joe Brownbagit

    Save Gas Money. No more firetruck rides to the grocery store. The rest of us have to brown bag it or walk to the deli. Keep staffing as it is.

    • TommyD

      And if your house catches on fire while they are at the store, would you like them to walk back to the firehouse to get the truck before going to put out your burning kitchen?

  • lotsoflaughs

    Funny stuff at

  • Clear the Hydrants!

    How come I never see any Fireman shoveling out the Fire Hydrants. They seem to have enough free time on their hands to do it. Stop shopping and shovel out the hydrants, you always say that seconds save lives, why not do it now instead of when their is a fire. And have tha Caleder Firefighters do it shirtless, some of us would love it.

    • Tommy D

      Because it is NY Law to shovel out your own hydrant.

  • Cole Poorer

    Let’s see we could have a twittering tax ,a phone texting tax,an air conditioner tax using an umbrella tax , a vitamin pill sales tax ,all elevators can become coin operated thereby a tax for each passenger. A tax if you call 311.911 or 411.
    A tax on churches and other religious tax free businesses, a tax on all
    bicycle purchases and all haircuts and fingernail painting ,a tax for viewing
    each painting at the wealthy Met.Museum a tax on walking the new snotty
    high line ,a tax while we are at it ,to view the rivers ,a tax for everyone for
    each sunny day.

  • Old Mike from Hell's Kitchen

    Anyone who has a loved one living in a non fire proof building
    and is listed with the NYFD as a C.I.D.S. emergency i.e. usually
    a critical care home bound patient or disabled elderly tenant will not want any less firefighters responding to a fire alarm in fact I would desire more FF’s especially in the many “taxpayer “buildings known as tenements or older loft
    buildings and wooden single family homes that may start burning.

    I fear this city is going backwards to the 1970’s when this city could
    no longer take care of it’s own, meaning it’s own citizens.

  • Hot Blooded

    Close more firehouses and while you are at it close some police stations also, but leave welfare payments alone!

  • LOL over this

    johnny, I’m no firefighter, but if you ever saw a fire truck parked in front of a supermarket while firefighters were shopping for food, then consider yourself lucky to have seen guardian angels, who are willing to walk through fire to save someones life, sustain themselves. They can shop in my neighborhood anytime. Or you can show your appreciation by buying the house dinner this way they don’t have to go out with the truck

  • joe

    The city could get some more money if they have fdny and the police pay into their pension like sanitation

    • Howard Sprague

      Hey Joe, Firefighters and Police Officers DO pay into their own pensions. Check your facts before you attack.

  • 911

    Soon there will be a surchage for all emergency services?????????????

  • Ellen

    Hello, you need the firefighters and police. How about cutting the salaries of many city politicians instead of cutting back on firefighters.

  • Johnny

    I guess this means less time shopping at the supermarket to pick up groceries with a fire truck.

    • Howard Sprague

      Firefighters do not get a meal break while on duty. They eat in between emergency responses. If an alarm is received while they are picking up a meal. they drop everything and respond immediately. Are you implying that Firefighters should not be allowed to eat while on duty?

    • ffmom

      Hey Johnny they take the rig so that should a call come in while they are buying the meal that they pay for out of their own pockets ( city does not foot the bill) they are read to go. No time wasted. Speak when you know what you are talking about.

      • Johnny

        I do know what I’m talking about. Since when does any job foot the bill for employees? While they do a great service for the community, they’re overpaid and the pensions with other benefits they receive simply put a stanglehold on taxpayers courtesy of the union.

        Just because you provide an essential service doesn’t give the union the right to bleed the public dry. Is that food enough for ya?

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