Plan to scale back overnight staffing at Gananoque fire hall draws criticism

A plan to scale back overnight staffing at the Gananoque fire hall has sparked a backlash, with the Kingston Professional Firefighters Association calling the decision “reckless.”

However, Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk says the cost-saving move has been done in neighbouring communities. She says places like the township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Elizabethtown-Kitley and Prescott do not have midnight shifts at their fire halls.

“It’s a cost-saving measure and it doesn’t affect the response time of the firefighters to get to a fire if a fire is called in,” Demchuk said.

The outgoing mayor adds that eliminating the midnight shift will save the municipality $145,000 a year. Demchuk says the move is aimed at providing the best service possible and making sure that it is cost-efficient to taxpayers.

Ann Bryan, president of the Kingston Professional Firefighters Association, disagrees.

“The discussion to have this change or to consider this change should have been one that the town council had with the public,” Bryan said.

“The residents of Gananoque were not advised of this change, and when they did hear about it through the last council meeting, they raised concerns and those concerns were effectively hushed.”

The firefighters association has been vocal about its opposition to the move, taking to social media to voice concerns.

“Reducing staffing levels in Gananoque and leaving the fire hall empty during nights is a reckless decision,” it tweeted on Monday.

Gananoque town council is scheduled to vote on eliminating the midnight shift on Nov. 20.

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