TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time in recent memory, no firefighters were staffing the firehouse on Wheeler Street because there wasn’t enough staff to do it. Was it a one time occurrence, or will this be a regular thing?
The answer depends on who you ask about what happened on Sunday night in the City of Tonawanda.
“We need five people to man the five pieces of apparatus we have” said Fire Captain James Barber, who is also President of the International Association of Fire Fighters local 859, who represents 24 union firefighters on the Tonawanda Fire Department
Barber says, last Friday, two firemen retired causing a shortage in the Department. “The city has been aware since October of last year that we were gonna be facing these issues and we’ve yet to have any meaningful discussion about it.”
Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis blames it on a miscommunication between him and the Fire Chief. “It was a little gap caused by the two retirements, but I met with the Chief this morning, and moving forward, we have a solid plan in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Valerie Perez hopes it doesn’t she lives right across from the Wheeler street station. “I’m very upset. I love having them across the street. It’s so convenient having them here, especially when I start my own little fires and they just run across and help me out.”
A special Facebook page and signs have sprouted up reading Save Engine 3.
The Mayor insists the issue is resolved. “We’re gonna fill one of the slots and be able to bridge the gap.”
Captain Barber says, looking at the current staffing, he predicts Engine 3 will have to unmanned again for the day shift on Tuesday.