Union chief: Adding 5th firefighter to engines would cut response times

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NEW YORK -

The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association says that adding a fifth firefighter on every FDNY engine would decrease response times, unclog traffic and ultimately save lives.

Gerard Fitzgerald spoke with News 12 outside Engine 64 on Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx about ways the FDNY could run more efficiently when responding to alarms.

Fitzgerald says increased population and changes in traffic patterns due to the mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative is slowing down firefighters. He says adding a fifth firefighter to engines would decrease the need to pack the roads with emergency service vehicles.

“Our firetrucks are unable to respond in the matter in which they’re used to…that makes it more dangerous for the public, it makes it more dangerous for the firefighters,” says Fitzgerald.

The mayor’s office did not respond when called for a comment. A representative from the FDNY said that “FDNY engine companies are staffed by four firefighters and 1 fire officer. The vast majority of fire engine companies have been staffed in this manner for two decades. In that time, the number of fire deaths and serious fires has dropped dramatically.”

The city and the UFA have also settled long-standing litigation related to the 2011 expiration of the Roster Staffing Agreement.

Among other terms, the prior agreement required the FDNY to staff 60 Engine Companies with five firefighters each. Under today’s agreement, the FDNY will staff 20 Engine Companies with five firefighters each by February 2019, adding the fifth firefighter to five companies each year beginning in 2016.

Fitzgerald says those changes should be implemented now.

“In a business where time matters, where seconds matter, people are going to lose their lives over traffic the way it is. Something needs to be done,” he said.

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