One woman stood before Syracuse lawmakers Monday evening and shouted, "Without our firefighters, we'd all be dead!" The public hearing on the 2013-14 budget was dominated by talk of planned cuts to the fire department. The plan put forward by the Mayor would close Station 7 near Syracuse University, and repurpose Station 6 on the city's westside.
Some members of the firefighters union told the councilors they are scared by the plan to reduce the number of on duty firefighters from 69 down to 65. The new fire chief, Paul Linnertz insists the public will see no reduction in response time. Linnertz says the department is just coming off last week's deadly blaze on North Salina Street and says that no number of firefighters could have saved the lives of the two people who died. "The closest station is thirty seconds from that apartment building, and there was nothing we could do for those people," Linnertz said. "Those people are speaking from the heart, but in America, sometimes people die in fires." "I don't know what they're (the critics) afraid of. This will not impact response times and the citizens of Syracuse will not notice a difference. I just don't know what else I can do to alay their fears," Linnertz said.
The Syracuse Common Council has until May 8th to act on the budget.