KC firefighters protest shutdown of pumper #32

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City firefighters sounded the alarm and alerted people in the Plaza and Brookside area of two fire company closures on the way.

Several firefighters handed out pamphlets that explained what changes are on the way.

Currently, there are two companies in the fire station on 43rd Street. One pumper covers Westport and the other, #32, responds to calls in the Plaza area.

However, on June 30 the station will lose #32.

"They're running a district. This is their first end district. Anything that goes on in this densely populated area is their call on up into Brookside," president of the local firefighter union Mike Cambiano said.

This will double the number of calls for the remaining pumper.

Firefighters at #32 and another station in the south region of the city will be redistributed to other stations across the city. The change comes as a federal grant runs out.

The city says this is what the union agreed to in their contract two years ago. However, Cambiano thinks changes to the budget should have been made two years ago.

"Giving them the two years to work through the process to find the funding source and them not doing that is probably the most troubling. Seeing the way they're spending the money when they can do emergency street car studies," Cambiano said.

Firefighters urged residents to contact their councilman to halt these closures.

The city responded in a statement that reads:

We wish to emphasize that Fire Station #19 remains open and well-staffed, with a ladder truck, pumper company, ambulance and chief’s truck. The only change is that instead of two pumpers, it will have one. However, that pumper is being upgraded to an Advanced Life Support pumper, which will enable it to function more like an ambulance and provide higher level medical care.

The staffing changes that take effect this summer were agreed to by Local 42 in the 2012 labor agreement. In other words, two years ago our union partner agreed that this change would have the least impact on public safety.

We have full confidence in the ability of the fire department to carry out its public safety mission and provide full coverage to all neighborhoods while making these adjustments.
 
Now that the plan is set to go into effect, the union effort to reverse their commitment does a disservice to the City’s labor negotiating process and ignores the City’s budget process and financial realities. That financial reality includes the fact that the KCFD was $10 million over budget. While we were fortunate to receive a federal SAFER grant that provided a two year delay to the agreement, it is now time to move forward with the plan that Local 42 committed to in 2012.

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