October 8, 2014 6:32 pm
Updated: October 9, 2014 8:04 am

Toronto firefighters want mayoral candidates to address service cuts

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Watch above: Firefighters say budget cuts are slowing response times. Marianne Dimain looks into whether that’s true. 

TORONTO – Toronto firefighters are wading into the political debate less than three weeks before the municipal election with the release of poll results indicating a majority of residents support restoring fire service back to 2013 levels.

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The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, (TPFA) says budget cuts made to services earlier this year are putting Torontonians’ lives at risk.

“We are weeks away from a municipal election, and the new Mayor and council have the chance to make things right by restoring the cut funding and getting the fire-fighting budget back on track in 2015,” said Ed Kennedy, President of the TPFA, in a media release.

Earlier this year, city council voted to remove four fire trucks from service and 84 firefighter positions were eliminated through attrition.

Back in April, Fire Station 424 at Bloor West and Runneymede was shut down, which reportedly resulted in longer than expected response times.

“The newly elected Toronto City Council will have the power to listen to our residents, and we are asking candidates to show their support for Toronto Fire Services by pledging to reverse the Ford-era firefighting cuts,” said Kennedy.

The union says a recent three-alarm fire at Jane Street and Dundas Street on Sept. 19 spread from a garage to four nearby homes before it was extinguished.

TPFA says if station 424 was still open, it could have been at the car fire in two minutes or less and prevented further damage.

The poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the TPFA also revealed 86 per cent of residents feel Toronto Fire Services are an important use of tax dollars.

Meanwhile, residents are more than twice as likely to support an automatic increase of resources for Toronto Fire Services to match population growth, regardless of budget impact.

The poll also said that only one-third of Torontonians want to cut programs to save taxes, preferring instead to maintain investing in firefighting programs and services, even if it means a tax increase.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner online poll was conducted between Sept. 9-16 among 1,000 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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