He embodies the phrase mild mannered. His voice is soft and reassuring. Yet, the words of Fire Chief Paul Linnertz revealed a concern about what he sees as an irrational fear that suddenly the city of Syracuse will not be safe from fire if the Common Council passed a budget that cuts positions from the fire department.
The mayor proposed cutting four positions per shift for the fire department. She wants to close on station and cut back on the service at another. The firefighters union has raised concerns. The newly appointed chief surely would rather have more men and women on the job than less, but he is also taking a practical approach exhibiting confidence that response time will not be hindered by the cutbacks.
Some people who live in the city who are advocating for the restoration of the fire department cuts pointed to Friday night's deadly fire on North Salina Street as an example of the importance of retaining staffing levels. Chief Linnertz explained there was nothing that could be done to save those lives. There was a firehouse right around the corner. It took seconds to get to the apartment house. Yet, still two people died. That's what happens in fires sometimes no matter how many members are working the shift.
We will see more demonstrations before the budget is passed. Then the Common Council will past it with the cuts still in place. The city will go about its business. We'll be o.k. Just ask Chief Linnertz.
Watch photos from N. Salina Street fire.
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