Fire Dept. to roll out manning change

GLOVERSVILLE — Five person minimum staffing at the city fire department will begin next week.

According to an email sent to The Leader-Herald from Mayor Dayton King, the change will occur on Sunday.

The city and Gloversville Firefighters Association Local 719 agreed to a new 11-year contract on May 5. The union ratified the contract on May 8 and the Common Council approved it on May 9. The previous contract expired in 2013.

The agreement earlier this month was the result of an all-day mediation session.

In the contract, the minimum staffing changes from seven to five.

The staffing minimums require firefighters to be called in when the levels get below the contracted number. Regular scheduling will be seven firefighters on duty.

King said he thinks the change will be good for the city.

He said that the agreement will allow the city to keep career firefighters, while also saving money.

He said the city previously had an eight and seven structure, before moving to a seven and seven. He said the move to seven and five will further save money while keeping a career department.

“I know we addressed a referendum and looked at changes that way, and I’m glad it didn’t come to that,” King said. “I think it’s a win-win for the city.”

The city had looked at a referendum that would have changed the makeup of the department to include volunteers.

King said the change will allow firefighters get more days off, since they won’t be called in until staffing gets below five.

There will be more firefighters on staff during times of major events in the city.

“This is a good deal for both sides,” King said.

King said this agreement will allow the fire chief to have the discretion to call in more people during times of big storms or events.

Fire chief Tom Groff said the five-man minimum “will be a challenge.” He said the firefighters will still have the same number of jobs to do, but they’ll have to do them with fewer people. He said they are in the process of training with five people, but there will be a learning curve.

“I think we’ll be able to handle it with five people,” Groff said. “We’re professionals, and this is what we do.”

He said the department might be limited in its EMS response because of the reduced staffing.

Kerry Minor covers the city of Gloversville. She can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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