Fire station closes, 4 trucks taken out of service amid budget cuts
Chris Kitching, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 21, 2014 6:54AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 21, 2014 9:35PM EDT
A fire station in west end Toronto closed for good Monday and four trucks are being taken out of service thanks to budget cuts approved by city council.
Council voted to close Fire Station 424 and reduce the fleet to save money, but the firefighters’ union claims the move will increase emergency response times and jeopardize the safety of Torontonians.
The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association says the pumper truck cuts will save the average taxpayer a “measly” two cents a day and people won’t notice any of the savings on their annual tax bills.
Toronto Fire Services Chief Jim Sales is scheduled to speak to reporters Tuesday afternoon.
One of the decommissioned fire trucks was based at Fire Station 424 on Runnymede Road, south of Annette Street. Three stations are located within two kilometres of the fire hall, which had been around since the 1920s.
Before it closed at 7 a.m. Monday, someone attempting to pin the blame on Mayor Rob Ford attached signs reading "Closed by Rob Ford" on the fire hall's bay doors. The signs were later removed by the district chief.
Outside, the Canadian flag was flying upside down.
Residents and a local city councillor who opposed the closure expressed concerns about future response times and safety.
“In this ward alone, we’re getting over 4,000 new units in the next five to eight years,” said Coun. Sarah Doucette. “That’s a lot of highrises where these firefighters are going to take longer getting in to the fire and getting out again.”
The other trucks that are being axed are located in Scarborough – at fire stations 213 (7 Lapsley Rd.) and 215 (5318 Lawrence Ave. E.) – and at Fire Station 413 in Rexdale (1549 Albion Rd.).
Eighty-four firefighters affected by the cutbacks will be moved to other stations across the city.
Capt. Henry Mommo is moving to a fire hall on the opposite end of the city.
“It’s an odd feeling. I can’t really describe it,” he said of his last day at the station. “I’m sorry for the neighbourhood, but that’s what (council) decided to do.”
Residents said they will miss the firefighters because they supported the efforts of local charities or groups.
The issue has sparked a war of words between union president Ed Kennedy and Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford.
Last Thursday, the mayor was criticized for using an old fire truck as a prop when he launched his re-election campaign.
The fire truck, owned by Rob Ford's brother Randy, was draped with a banner reading "Saving the taxpayers from getting burned."
In a statement, Kennedy said the mayor's decision to use a fire truck to tout "false claims" about taxpayer savings is "a slap in the face" to residents amid the cuts to Toronto Fire Services.
With files from CP24 reporter Cam Woolley.
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