Firefighter funding may get split in Canandaigua

Susan McCarthy, whose Scotland Road home in the city sustained major damage after a fire in March 2017, said the city is asking firefighters to do more with less.

McCarthy, who said she would be heartbroken if a firefighter had been injured in her home, called the staffing situation “unacceptable” and urged strongly for that to change.

“Do something,” McCarthy said during a presentation Tuesday of a consultant’s analysis of how fire service is delivered in the city and town of Canandaigua. “Do something quickly.”

A solution to the prolonged career staffing issues at the Canandaigua Fire Department may be coming.

Canandaigua Town Supervisor Greg Westbrook, toward the end of a presentation Tuesday night of a consultant’s study of how fire service is provided in the city and town, is asking the city and town management to get together and provide a budget impact analysis of having 12 full-time city firefighters on trucks by Feb. 1, 2019.

The figure is three more than the nine currently in place. The city has indicated that funding for an additional firefighter may be included in the 2019 budget.

The estimated cost of adding one firefighter is $100,000, so $200,000 — split between the town and city — would get to the 12 positions, which works out to $1.57 per month for the average home in the town, according to Town Manager Doug Finch.

Or, as Westbrook put it, “a reasonable target.”

The Center for Public Safety Management also is recommending an increase in staffing, which is among 26 recommendations for improving the service. The recommendation does note the city’s finances, and so proposed doing so incrementally. The report indicates the current city staffing level of two paid, or career, firefighters on duty is “substandard.”

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