Watertown’s firefighters union at odds with mayor over taking rescue truck off the road

WWNY Watertown’s firefighters union at odds with mayor over taking rescue truck off the road

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - After Watertown lost a recent court ruling, Mayor Jeff Smith says it’s between promoting fire captains or losing the rescue truck. He’s choosing to curb the truck - something fire union officials say is a safety risk.

The Watertown Fire Department rescue truck responds to hundreds of emergency calls a year.

However, the city wants to stop that altogether.

Mayor Smith says a resolution will be introduced at next Monday’s city council meeting that will take the rescue truck off the road.

“There is not a need for them to continually respond to EMS calls when they don’t have the level of care or support to give that Guilfoyle does,” said Smith.

While the mayor thinks Guilfoyle Ambulance should respond to the emergency solo, the president of the firefighters union says taking the truck away could pose a safety risk.

“This should scare the average citizen of Watertown because this is a reduction in services that honestly cost the city next to nothing,” said Dan Daugherty, president of Watertown Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 191.

The proposal comes after an appellate court ruling against the city.

Smith says the city would have had to promote some more firefighters to captain positions or stop using the truck on a frequent basis.

Smith says the move would save taxpayers $250,000 - money that would have been used to buy a new rescue truck. He says it would also help with ongoing disputes over minimum manning by removing two firefighters from working on the truck.

Guilfoyle Ambulance President and CEO Bruce Wright agrees with the fire union.

In a statement he said, “The idea of this plan is detrimental to public safety as it pushes us many years back instead of forward. The fire department has been a tremendous help to our operation.”

Smith says the fire department would still be able to respond using the rescue truck if Guilfoyle asked for assistance.

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