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Garden City board to consider firefighter layoffs

The headquarters of the Garden City Fire Department

The headquarters of the Garden City Fire Department at 351 Stewart Ave. in Garden City. (Aug. 27, 2012) Credit: Steven Pfost

Garden City Village’s board of trustees will consider Thursday night whether to lay off six paid firefighters and demote one fire lieutenant, despite previous arguments from firefighters that staff reductions and station closings could jeopardize the safety of the public and firefighters.

The village board will meet at 8 p.m. in Village Hall, 351 Stewart Ave.

In a 7-1 vote in late December — Mayor Donald Brudie was the lone dissenter — the board passed a recommendation calling for the elimination of nighttime staff at the Edgemere Road and Clinton Road stations, and the placement of four paid firefighters and a lieutenant at headquarters on Stewart Avenue. Previous required staffing levels were two paid firefighters and a lieutenant at headquarters, and two paid firefighters at each satellite station on a 24-hour basis. Volunteer firefighters augment their paid colleagues.

The 92-year-old department — overseen by the village — has about 35 paid firefighters and 100 volunteer members. After the staffing change, village officials said, paid firefighters will work 12-hour tours, instead of 10 hours for the day tour and 14 hours for the night tour.

The board made the decision after it received in July an 85-page analysis of the department’s performance from the International City/County Management Association. The first recommendation implemented from the report was to allow the Nassau County Fire Communication Center to handle all dispatch calls, starting last August. But paid firefighters argue the switch has slowed response to some calls.

The moves will improve efficiency while minimizing tax increases, village officials have said. They pointed out that the decision not to staff satellite stations is based on low call volume at night, when vehicles can move through the 5.3-square-mile village more quickly.

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