Five fire trucks across the city await their fate this week as the city decides whether to make cuts to fire services as part of its 2013 budget.
The city has proposed a $12.7 million cut, which will lead to the elimination of 101 firefighting jobs, five trucks and Fire Station no. 424 on Runnymede Road, which has one of the truck.
Around 100 community members near Station 324 at 840 Gerrard St. E. rallied Jan. 10 to prevent the loss of one of its trucks. The station currently has two trucks.
“When we’re left with one truck, if that truck’s on call there’s nothing left,” said Judy Oaks, co-owner of Bill’s Lobster at Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue, post-rally. She has both lived and worked in the neighbourhood for more than 20 years.
She noted buildings are close together with a lot of restaurants and rooming houses.
“The time frame is so urgent.”
Ed Kennedy, president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (TPFFA), spoke at the event, along with firefighters, to spread awareness in the neighbourhood and across the city.
“The fire service has been a very lean service to start with, but now to try to close stations and take trucks out of service is ridiculous,” Kennedy said last week after the rally.
Councillors Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, as well as MPP Peter Tabuns and MP Craig Scott were also at the rally.
Kennedy noted there are more than 300,000 more people in Toronto since the amalgamation of fire services in 1998, but the number of trucks, 128, has remained the same.
“One of the things that they’re (the city) highlighting in their budget is that they’re going to have over a $200 million surplus,” said Kennedy. “Maybe some of that surplus is due to them trying to take $12.7 million out of the fire budget.”
The closest fire stations to Fire Station no. 324 are at Donlands Avenue and O’Connor Drive and Main Street and Gerrard Street, and they each only have one truck, Kennedy said.
A meeting at city hall after the rally resulted in 35 new jobs being proposed – but the 101 jobs still eliminated, but nothing about changing the budget, Kennedy said.
“We feel it’s getting a great response, and we’re now getting councillors calling us to see if there’s something that can be done,” said Kennedy Monday.
The TPFFA has started a website, www.secondscounttoronto.ca, to spread awareness of the impacts of a reduced fire budget.