New Rochelle Cuts Fire Department Staffing Beginning Thursday To Save Less Than 3 Cents per Day per Resident
The City of New Rochelle will slash its emergency responder protections this Thursday, November 17), cutting its minimum on duty firefighting contingent to 24 firefighters. Additionally one of the department’s three ladder companies , which conduct search, rescue and recovery operations and venting heat, will be taken out of service.
Closing Ladder-12, which is based at the Webster Avenue firehouse, a highly populated downtown neighborhood will diminish by one-third the number of ladder companies able to respond to emergencies. Ladder companies are especially important in a city like New Rochelle which has scores of multi-story and high rise buildings.
“The city is gambling with the lives of its citizens and firefighters to save less than 3 cents a day per resident,” said Byron Gray, president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association. “Will fire victims stuck on the upper floors of a building be able to survive the extra minutes it will take to rescue them.”
In the last decade New Rochelle has become home to major growth and development including New Rock City and several high rise residential towers. It is also host to several major highways including the Hutchison River Parkway and I-95 and Metro North’s New Haven Line. The city is also home to three colleges Iona College, College of New Rochelle and Monroe College.
Since 2008 the New Rochelle Fire Department has gone from 168 firefighters to 143, a 15 percent cut. In 2008, the minimum on-duty staffing level was 29 firefighters to protect the entire city.
New Rochelle’s proposed 2012 city budget calls for the Fire Department to eliminate 9 firefighter positions and permanently closed Ladder 12. The $770,000 budget saving would amount to less than 3 cents per resident per day or ½ of 1 per cent of the city’s total budget.