FDNY Engines Will Be Carrying Fewer Firefighters

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CHERYL FIANDACA
ABC 7, New York


The FDNY has lost so many, and now its ranks will be trimmed again by a city deep in the red. A state Supreme Court judge now says the city can reduce the size of its crews. Cheryl Fiandaca reports.

This morning, the firefighters union lost its bid to stop the city from cutting manpower at several engine companies after a Brooklyn judge refused to grant the union an injunction. The judge's decision does pave the way for the city to make the cuts starting on Thursday. The city says it will save about $12 million dollars with the cuts. But the firefighters union says that cuts will jeopardize public safety. They are asking for a meeting with the mayor and they are also asking for the mayor to stop the cuts and not implement them on Thursday.

Steve Cassidy, Union President: "Even though the city has now won the right to reduce the number of men on 49 engine companies, we hope that they will now take the time to realize that they do not have to implement that, even though they have won the right to do it."

On Thursday the city plans to cut the size of crews at several firehouses from five to four firefighters. This is a move that the mayor says will save the city about $12 million dollars.

Donna Kasbohm, City Attorney: "I think it was a difficult decision and he made the right choice."

But the union says that the cuts will jeopardize public safety. The city was given the opportunity to make the cuts because the union contract allows a reduction when the sick-leave rate exceeds 7.5 percent. Fire officials now say the rate is 8.6 percent and union leaders blame the medical situation on 9/11. They claim that many firefighters got ill working at Ground Zero without proper equipment.

Cassidy: "We are over the number for one reason and one reason only. Nine eleven made firefighters sick in record numbers. As we get farther and farther away from September 11, 2001, the numbers will go down. I believe if the mayor gives us a few months he will see that."

The union says it plans to appeal the judge's decision and this is something they could do as early as tomorrow. Union leaders are also hoping for a meeting with the mayor. They are also hoping to not have those cuts implemented on Thursday.

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