RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The threat of cutting back on fire department positions was discussed at a common council meeting Wednesday night.
The city of Rensselaer is telling its firefighters there’s not enough money to go around. In addition to not having contracts, four positions may be cut. The fire union said it could be detrimental to the safety of residents if the positions are cut.
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer said he’s not allowed to talk about the Rensselaer Fire Department negotiations.
“I’m not talking about fire, okay,” he said.
In April, he made it clear that the city doesn’t have enough money to meet union demands. At Wednesday night’s common council meeting, residents voiced their concerns about not increasing members’ pay.
“I believe that not negotiating in good faith is disrespectful to these brave men,” one resident said. “Let’s be honest. These members are looking for a small percentage raise on a meager salary.”
Assistant Fire Chief Phil Smith asked if cuts could be made in other departments, and resident Fared Almyer cited a scientific study on the dangers of cutting positions.
“Some departments have trimmed their crews down to two per vehicle,” she said. “More units required to go to each fire causing delays and longer response times.”
Union President Mark Hennessy agrees.
“The first due truck will be getting there with one person on it,” he said. “There’s really not that much you can do with one person.”
Resident James Almyer believes the potential cut back could deter people from investing in the city that’s in desperate need of money.
“The fact that a fire truck can show up with only one person is the only thing that they can guarantee is not a reassuring thought,” he said.
The union said the potential cuts would come from an area that needs members most such as the south end near the Albany-Rensselaer Rail Station and the port.