JAMESTOWN – A day after Jamestown firefighters sounded the alarm about understaffing issues within the department, the three mayoral candidates are reacting to the union’s call for action.
Jamestown Democrat Mayoral Candidate Eddie Sundquist told WNYNewsNow in his experience as an attorney, the matter is best left to the negotiating table.
“This is a matter of concern that needs to be negotiated between the city and the union,” said Sundquist. “I really do believe that the needs of the city have completely changed from years past. We are responding to more EMS calls than ever before and we need to work with our firefighter union and our firefighters to really address those concerns.”
Sundquist said he has spoken to some of the firefighters and looks forward to speaking with the entire union in the coming weeks to hear what they have to say.
The candidate explained the city needs to seriously consider how to deal with more EMS calls while working with less help from outside entities like Alstar EMS.
“How do we deal with a private entity, WCA Services as part of UPMC, just being out of service and not responding to normal ambulance calls for transport,” explained Sundquist.
Libertarian Mayoral Candidate Andrew Liuzzo said, as a sitting City Councilman At-Large, he is unable to comment directly due to the fear of negotiating outside of term.
“Anything I say could be misconstrued as negotiations outside of the venue they have to deal with this,” explained Councilman Liuzzo. “As a mayoral candidate the thing I can promise is I will listen to everybody, whether it is the fire union, the police union, people that work for various departments and most importantly the citizens of the city.”
Republican Mayoral Candidate Dave Wilfong said he believes the city needs to fix the manpower shortage, but also must find a way to fix ambulance shortages from Alstar EMS.
“I want the listeners to realize that the real problem, as I see it, is we have to find out what the problems are at the Alstar Ambulance group and their responsibilities to the community,” said Wilfong.
On Monday, Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association President Shawn Shilling said for the past two decades the city fire department has been seriously understaffed leaving a, “unnecessary risk” to city residents.
Since 2009, Shilling says calls for emergency service to the Jamestown Fire Department have steadily increased, while the number of firefighters available to respond have decreased.
Current policy places residents at risk by only having enough fire fighters to staff the city’s ambulance, leaving the ladder truck out of service and unavailable to respond to structure fires, Shilling explained.
Jamestown Professional Firefighters say they are committed to working with officials and community leaders to find solutions that best provide fire and emergency medical services for city residents.
WNYNewsNow also reached out to outgoing Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, who has not returned our call.