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

— “It’s really disheartening,” he said. “Two years ago, we came to agreement about our health insurance. Under a contractual agreement, we increased our payments toward our health insurance. No other bargaining unit has done that. Now it’s time for someone else to step up along with us. No one’s being held accountable but us.”

But Bill Ryan, Mayor Stephanie Miner’s chief of staff, disagreed.

“The conversation is that we have a $20 million gap projected for the next fiscal year beginning July 1,” Ryan said. “Every department has been asked to cut their budgets. It’s not just the fire department; citywide, everyone is being asked to come up with a plan.”

Ryan emphasized the structural issues at Station No. 7.

“Engine Company No. 7 has a lot of structural problems,” he said. “We’re not just talking a leaking roof; we’re talking about chunks of concrete falling through the floor. There’s been no money put into Station 7 for years and years, and there’s no money to put into now. The estimate is about $1 million to fix it.”

But Syracuse Common Council Majority Leader Lance Denno pointed out that the city doesn’t have to come up with that money now.

“Whether it’s repairs or new construction, that cost would be bonded,” Denno said. “That cost would be paid out over an extended period of time. If they were to build another fire station for, let’s say, $5 million — and I don’t even know if that’s a reasonable cost for a new fire station — that could be spread out over 20 years. Quite frankly, this is a relatively inexpensive era in which to borrow money.”

Denno, a former Syracuse deputy fire chief, is a staunch supporter of keeping Station No. 7 open.

“Engine Company No. 7 plays a critical role in providing that public safety in the city of Syracuse,” he said. “I believe that, whether the building needs to be repaired or replaced — that’s a decision that’s got to be made down the road — closing Engine Company No. 7 is an unacceptable risk for public safety and firefighter safety.”

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