To The Editor:
In another couple of weeks the remaining 6 firefighters of the 17 positions cut from the department in the 2017 budget, will be laid off.
This will be a first for Oswego and the largest cut to a fire department in recent history across the state.
This equals a 33% reduction in the city’s firefighting force.
As a result, the number of firefighters on duty at any given time has been reduced to 7.
That is one fully staffed engine company no longer there to rely on.
Whether it is a fire, a medical emergency, a car accident, a river rescue, or any other routine emergency we handle, the impact of having 4 less responders will definitely be felt.
It will take longer to do the same necessary tasks; some will not get done at all.
Simultaneous calls may leave no one available to respond to a second or third call.
Calling in more personnel or mutual aid will be necessary more often, but that takes time.
More help after the fact, although necessary, rarely makes a difference in the life-saving outcome of an emergency.
That difference is made in the first minutes if not seconds, by the firefighters on duty.
The mayor and council justified these cuts by saying the department was “overstaffed” by comparison, however as you read this, you may find it interesting that Oswego is now protected by one less firefighter on duty, than our neighboring city of Fulton.
It should also be mentioned that comparing the staffing of our department to one that does not provide ambulance service, wouldn’t be considered an apples to apples comparison, as operating an ambulance requires more personnel.
We are apprehensive about our future; we have not had a major emergency with only 7 firefighters on duty yet.
All we can offer you at this point is that we will continue to give you everything we have when it comes to keeping Oswego’s citizens safe.
We would also like to publicly thank the firefighters who will no longer be members of our department.
We have lost a great part of our membership, and we thank you for your dedicated service to the city.
We can only hope that in the future, the city will explore any grant opportunities that could bring you back to work and help return staffing to a safer level.
To those we serve and protect, thank you for your continued support, if you’d like to learn more about your fire department and gain more insight on these issues, call and schedule a fire station tour or visit.
Wishing all of you a happy and safe holiday season,
The members of the Oswego Firefighters’ Association