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SFD sends out alarm: Union says closing of station may endanger commuters

— Necessary repairs to the floor, windows and bathrooms would cost approximately $1 million to $1.5 million. A full rebuild would run closer to $7 million to $10 million. That’s why this particular station has been targeted for closure, in addition to the fact that there are four other stations nearby that could handle its calls — Station No. 10 at East Genesee and Cambridge streets, Station No. 9 on Shuart Avenue, Station No. 12 on Burnet Avenue and Station No. 1 on State Street.

But Motondo said that the facility’s central location is critical to public safety.

“The integral part of this is the location of the firehouse itself,” he said. “Without it, it creates a response hole. In that location, we can branch out and go in any direction. Without it, it will leave a void.”

The fire department, which responded to 27,609 calls last year, operates a total of 12 stations in the city, which include 10 engine companies and six truck companies. Response times average less than four minutes, as all addresses citywide are within two miles of a station. About 350 firefighters staff the department, which is less than the budgeted amount of 389. If Station No. 7 is closed, it would reduce the number of on-staff firefighters per shift by four.

Right now, the city and the department are operating on manning numbers from an expired contract.

“Right now, within our labor agreement, we had a clause pertaining to minimum manning, what we feel is a safe number,” Motondo said. “But that agreement expired at the end of December. Any reduction in that number will create a problem. We’ve already had reductions of two men in the last year and a half. Any more will create a bigger void.”

Motondo said firefighters feel that they’re being targeted for cuts.

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