City of Tonawanda budget causing problems with Fire Department

A battle is brewing between the City of Tonawanda and firefighters

City of Tonawanda (WIVB) – A battle is brewing between the City of Tonawanda and firefighters. Several firefighters say the city is cutting down on fire protection by getting rid of firemen. The mayor says he’s keeping the number of firefighters the same. Neighbors just want to make sure they’re safe.

Richard Derrick has been living in the City of Tonawanda his whole life.

“When it hits close to home it really wakes you up inside and makes you think, ‘what’s going on’?” says Derrick.

Police say Christopher Syracuse, who’s already pleaded guilty to setting fires in North Tonawanda, set a truck on fire near Derrick’s house in August.

“We got to find somehow to keep the services without raising taxes,” says Derrick.

Prior to tonight’s Common Council meeting, Fire fighters picketed in front of city hall.  Leaders for the city’s Fire department claim this year’s proposed budget is cutting two firefighters from the department.  Four firefighters are retiring from the City of Tonawanda Fire Department are retiring. The proposed budget the city is replacing two of those positions.

City Mayor Rick Davis says he’s making the department’s fire protection and fire training officers act as first responders in addition to their current jobs.

“There will still be five men at least five men on a shift starting January 1st that there is right now. So it’s a net loss of zero,” says Davis.

Jim Barber the union representative for the city’s fire department says that adds more work for those two officers.

“There’s a reduction there, no matter how you look at it. You go from a 27 man department to a 25 man department, that’s a reduction,” says Barber.

Barber also says the mayor hasn’t spoken with the department about any of these changes.

“I don’t know what his end game is but it’s much easier to include the people that it’s going to affect so we can be properly informed.”

Firefighters say they want to meet with the mayor, who says his door is open.

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