Greenwich Fire Department shifts staffing on trucks

Members of the Greenwich Firefighters Union say they are concerned after the department shifted its staffing on all trucks this week.

All engines now have three firefighters on them. The shift is a change from procedures that saw half of the units with four-person crews and half with two-person crews.

First Selectman Peter Tesei says it's the only option to eliminate having two firefighters on a truck, which is something the union has wanted to do for years.

Union leaders say, however, the move still leaves firefighters and the town vulnerable.

"Our concern is that instead of dealing with the risk that they have in town with the under-staffing, they've just shifted the risk to different parts of town," says Union Secretary Matt Brooks.

Brooks says that north of the Merritt Parkway, fire stations are further apart which means it could be several minutes until a second engine arrives and firefighters get to work. He adds that the fire chief and first selectman have tried to add staffing during the budget process.

"We've done that three times and that's been met with resistance from the funding authorities," Tesei says. "The only remaining option to eliminate two-person engines was to reallocate the staff we do have."

The union has also proposed using firefighters who fill in during vacation and sick time to permanently increase staffing on trucks.

Tesei, though, says that is not possible. He also says there hasn't been much community support at budget hearings for adding staff, which makes it easy for the finance board not to do it.

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