PEEKSKILL, N.Y. - The Peekskill Fire Department has been issued an order to begin introducing “rolling blackouts” at local stations, reducing staffing at a time the city is growing.
At a recent meeting, members of the Peekskill Common Council directed City Manager Richard Leins and Fire Chief Vincent Malaspina to reduce on-duty professional staffing from five firefighters to four, doing so by utilizing “rolling blackouts.”
According to the Peekskill Professional Firefighters Local 2343, “rolling blackouts” are “a method which closes a fire station when the firefighter assigned to that station is off on scheduled vacation, personal or sick leave. Instead of replacing the absent member by filling the shift with overtime, this plan calls to close the station and take the apparatus out of service for the entire shift.”
In a Facebook message, officials said “the services (residents and taxpayers) are entitled to and are paying for are (being) reduced to unsafe levels and can result in an increased threat to life and property.”
“Not having enough firefighters to extinguish a fire, extricate an accident victim, or treat a medical emergency is dangerous for all of us. Less personnel means that the most important tasks on emergency scenes such as securing a water source or rescuing a victim will take up to 20 percent longer than it would if we had our full complement of staffing, which could result in deadly consequences.”
Citing the hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed development, the firefighters union noted that staffing should be growing, not shrinking. They noted that while volunteer firefighters in Peekskill do good work protecting the city, there isn’t enough of them to pick up the slack of “rolling blackouts.”
“The city will defend this decision as a necessary means to stay within the budget, and rely on a diminishing force of volunteer firefighters to pick up the slack. Truthfully, the volunteer firefighters don't have enough of a consistent response of manpower to emergencies to be able to support this plan, this a fact, not an attack.
“There is no intention of disrespect to our volunteer counterparts, as most are hard working people with jobs and families of their own, who can't always keep up with the demands of our call volume.“
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