Amsterdam Mayor responds to firefighter staffing shortage

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AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS 10)– Amsterdam residents have been worried about ambulance response times, after learning that the union representing the city’s fire department said they have been dealing with a staffing shortage.

“A fire department that provides ambulance services is quickly becoming an ambulance service that also fights fires,” stated Amsterdam Mayor, Michael Cinquanti.

The mayor tonight explained the situation.

“There was an instance where the ambulance was called upon, I believe 3 times in a short period of time,” said Cinquanti. “Now what happens in those situations is that we don’t abandon the calls. The 911 calls are answered by— we have an agreement with GAVAC to provide an ambulance if we are too busy to do so. So in each case an Ambulance did come, but it wasn’t a city ambulance, it was a GAVAC ambulance.”

GAVAC is Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which provides mutual aid services to the city. Back in 2017, the city’s fire department staff requirement was reduced to 5 people during a shift. The president of Amsterdam professional firefighters Union said they need more people.

“More than ever right now, we need the city to staff us at 6 per day and we need them to deliver the resources for us to do that,” said Michael Demars, President of Amsterdam Professional Firefighters Union.

The mayor said the city is waiting to hear if it will be receiving a state grant to purchase a second ambulance. In the meantime, the city fire department will be operating the way it has been, and the city will be reevaluating the staffing issue.

“To provide this service at an increased or reduced scale, I want to understand exactly what the cost is and make sure it sustains over time,” said Cinquanti. “And I’m confident that by January 1st, we will know where we stand with equipment, how many ambulances we have and we will have a plan in place that our residents feel safe with, our fire department feels safe with, and our city can sustain.”

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