City of Tonawanda firefighters union pushes for more manpower

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Engine 3 in the City of Tonawanda is facing some major issues. The firefighters union says they do not have enough manpower to fight fires.

The full-time firefighters are racking up thousands of dollars in overtime and it’s unclear if the city has enough money in their budget to pay for the shortfalls.

“You’re only guaranteed to have five people show up to a fire, we rely heavily on the off duty guys and the volunteers,” said Dennis Angelo, Local 859 union president.

The lack of firefighters comes after two firefighters retired last year, leaving the city with only 24 full-time firefighters.

In 2015, a similar situation unraveled when there wasn’t enough manpower to staff the firehouse.

The firefighters union is pleading with the city to hire two more firefighters and avoid growing overtime costs.

“There’s an $83,000 deficit and we don’t want to have the same problem as we did last year,” said Angelo.

Angelo says the firefighters gave back 19 personal leave days last year which saved the city roughly $11,000.

This year, the union says they are willing to take a pay cut to hire more men.

“The 24 firefighters that are there now, we’re looking at a $4-5,000 dollar pay cut basically because of the overtime,” said Angelo.

Angelo told News 4 if the city can’t find anymore money in the budget, Engine 3 could shut down. It would consolidate with the main headquarters in another district.

“That’s going to change the way we operate just because we have one less man that’s going to be able to go inside or help hook up a hydrant and supply a water feed so that’s going to delay that aspect, or possibly going in for a rescue if someone’s trapped. It’s not about us, we’re looking out for the best of the residents,” said Angelo.

The union met with city council last week and is still waiting for a final decision.

News 4 reached out to the mayor and the city council president, but neither one could be reached for comment.

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