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Jamestown fire department understaffed, calls out the city

"Our citizens deserve better" read the letter
Posted at 8:03 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 23:37:25-04

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Jamestown fire department said it is understaffed and not meeting industry standards, according to a letter it posted on its Facebook page Monday morning.

Shawn Shilling, the President of Local 137, said the department has been understaffed for roughly two decades. The current policy laid out by the mayor calls for nine fireman and a chief. Shilling said that policy does not meet industry standards, which would have the department at 13-15 firefighters.

"Mayor [Sam] Teresi's long standing policy, and how he staffs his fire department have put us in this position," said Shilling.

The letter the union posted on Facebook said the lack of commitment by the city to help the department "properly address minimum NFPA standards" is "a major liability for the city."

It's a fact that doesn't sit well with Dee Armitage, who has been living in Jamestown since she was a teenager.

"My home is not going to be protected because we don't have enough staffing, that's wrong, that's just wrong," she said. "Give them what they want."

Shilling said there's been an increase in emergency calls over the past decade, and a decrease in emergency responders. He said a number of union presidents have asked Mayor Teresi to do something over the course of his administration.

Mayor Teresi spoke at Monday night's city council meeting.

He explained to the council that he previously didn't speak up because he wasn't going to mention ongoing contract disputes in public. The mayor also said the fire department is only supposed to be a back up ambulance service.

In the mayor's budget, the city is looking into purchasing two ambulances in case the city is forced to provide it's own services. The mayor says he's also willing to speak with the firefighters union.