PEI

Charlottetown firefighters' union upset with $200K budget cut

A five per cent cut to Charlottetown's fire service budget will see training for city firefighters slashed in half and is "putting the health and safety of our firefighters, and the community for that matter, at unnecessary risk" says the union that represents Charlottetown firefighters.

'We just don't see how it can not affect the service to the citizens'

The Charlottetown Fire Department announced a cut of five per cent to its budget — which amounts to $200,000. (CBC)

A five per cent cut to Charlottetown's fire service budget will see training for city firefighters slashed and is "putting the health and safety of our firefighters, and the community for that matter, at unnecessary risk" says the union that represents Charlottetown firefighters.

The fire department announced the $200,000 reduction Monday. Chief Randy MacDonald said the cuts had to be made to save money, and there shouldn't be any impact on fire services to the public.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 501 said Tuesday it "can't understand where the city's priorities are when they are reducing the budget."

The union representing Charlottetown's firefighters says the department's training budget 'should have been increased, not cut by half.' (CBC)

"The chief's comments yesterday that he didn't see how any services would be affected by a 45 per cent cut in training — we'll have to wait and see what it manifests itself like — but we just don't see how it can not affect the service to the citizens," CUPE national representative Bill McKinnon said.

"It is our view that the training budget should have been increased, not cut by half."

'Not just a washing machine'

The fire department also plans to delay purchasing a specialized washer for bunker gear, the union said, which is not good news. 

Cancer-causing chemicals can remain on firefighters' clothing and equipment after a fire, so they should be quickly and professionally cleaned, the union warned. 

"It's not just a washing machine we're talking about. It's an industrial, specific, specialized piece of equipment for reducing this off-gassing problem and eliminating the carcinogens as soon as possible after the fire," said MacKinnon.

CUPE pointed out mayor and council will receive raises totalling almost $100,000 in the same deficit budget. 

The Charlottetown Fire Department has eight permanent and nine seasonal firefighters as well as the chief and deputy chief, a permanent fire prevention officer and two fire investigators. 

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With files from Angela Walker

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