Today, if your house is on fire you can expect 10 to 13 firefighters to show up. In three years, if your house is on fire, 10 to 13 firefighters will show up to fight the blaze. So says Mayor Christian Provenzano and the Fire Chief, Mike Figliola, this despite the fact there will be 20 less firefighters on the job.
After a marathon debate last almost four hours Monday night, council was convinced that the Fire Chief’s plan was the way to go. The City is in bad shape when it comes to EMS staff and one way, and apparently the only way to increase the number of EMS is to reduce the number of firefighters.
The motion was passed in a 8-3 vote. Voting against the motion was councillor Marchy Bruni, Joe Krmpotich and Lou Turco.
The Mayor, the legal department and the CAO also endorsed the plan.
Figolia, who clearly had Provenzano in his corner, explained that house fire calls have dropped by 80 percent while EMS calls have soared by 100 percent, from 6,000 calls a year to over 12,000. Figolia, who told council Monday night that the Sault Ste. Marie Professional Firefighters Association was asked to come to the table to help formulate a plan but declined, penned the report by himself calling for a reduction of 20 firefighter positions over the next three years. He stressed that no firefighter was losing his job. The cuts would come through attrition. Currently Fire services operates under a $1.8 million budget, that includes operating the EMS for the city but the boundaries stretch from Montreal River to the north to Echo Bay to the east. The problem is, EMS has been severely understaffed since 2002. It was recognized by the city as a major risk and needed to be addressed.
The news didn’t go over well with the firefighters sitting in the packed gallery. Marty Kenopic, President of the association believes the Chief’s plan will put firefighters at risk as well as the community. Home insurance rights could rise said Kenopic. The plan calls for the reallocation of 8 paramedics and four paramedic supervisors, one training officer, one mechanic, one emergency planning officer and three additional allocations as warranted.
he realignment will see the reallocation where eight paramedics and four paramedic supervisors will be added to the EMS side. It will also mean the addition of two public education officers, one training officer, one mechanic, one emergency planning office and three additional allocations or eliminations, as warranted.
The union said it will put together a public relations campaign against the plan to inform the residents its position on the matter. “we’re all about public safety” Kenopic said.