Fire union criticizes Pa. city's COVID-19 plan
The union said parts of the plan, including the decision to "brown out" one of the city's fire stations, are "unsafe"
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
SCRANTON, Pa. — Scranton Fire Department union officials decried the city’s coronavirus emergency plan as partially “unsafe,” according to a letter the union sent to Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti.
In it, union President Jim Sable wrote that the city’s Fire Department plan for the coronavirus pandemic was created without any input from the union.
“No effort is being made to maintain adequate staffing levels when the citizens need us the most,” he said.
Cognetti’s chief of staff, Stephanie Pisko, said acting Fire Chief Al Lucas took the union’s concerns into consideration and the mayor believes the chief’s decisions are correct and “have been carefully made, with the overriding concern of safety first.”
“Scranton has an excellent Fire Department that is ready, properly equipped and well-suited to deal with any emergent task should it be needed,” Pisko said.
In a letter last week, the Fire Department enacted a plan to help counteract the COVID-19 virus.
Among those measures, the city would “brown out” the Truck 4 station on North Main Avenue, if overtime is needed to keep it staffed, to minimize shift-to-shift contact. Firefighters are restricted to the fire station where they are currently assigned, according to the plan.
The union said firefighters are postponing scheduled vacation and holiday time to try to keep the station open, and a closing would provide “little or no benefit.”
The union also said more than one company should be sent out on a call for a fire alarm, with the second company kept at a distance unless needed.
Kits issued to each apparatus include 12 N95 masks, hand sanitizer and eye protection to be used on 911 calls where firefighters may be in close contact with the public, the union said.
©2020 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)