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Toronto firefighters warn cuts could hurt public safety

Toronto firefighters left Thursday’s city council meeting warning that approved cuts could hurt public safety.

Councillors voted to eliminate four trucks and 84 frontline positions during their two-day budget vote.

“When we do have to respond, it’s going to take us longer,” Ed Kennedy, president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters’’ Association, said after the vote.

“With the move right now, and the loss of those four trucks, that’s a serious impact to our city.”

The original proposal was to eliminate five trucks. Councillors voted to save one of them, at a cost of $2 million. The fire department has a $422.8-million operating budget.

Staff told councillors on Thursday that any changes will be made through attrition, that there would be no changes in so-called first-in time responses and that the department would hire either 25 or 31 new fire prevention officers this year.

A number of firefighters attended the session, wearing red shirts to show they were against the cuts.