Five laid-off firefighters are back on the job this week.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Fire protection has been restored for the city's east and west sides.
Fire Chief Jay Mulligan officially opened fire stations on Parkman Road and Altantic Street this morning.
Councilwoman Susan Hartman, D-7th, said today is an important one for the city and her constituents, served by the Parkman station.
Fatal fire: A Dec. 31 house fire on Williamsburg Street N.W., in Hartman's ward, claimed the life of a disabled woman. Although fire officials said more staffing then would not have changed the outcome, Hartman said residents now can breathe a little easier.
"They've been waiting for this for a long time," she added.
Acting assistant fire chief Steve Williams said personnel reported to both stations this morning.
Shut down in 2000: The two stations were closed in January 2000 because of budget cuts that forced the layoff of city employees, including police officers and firefighters. Only the city's central fire station, on Youngstown Road, has been open.
Nearly 58 percent of voters approved a 31/2-year 0.5 percent income tax increase last week to generate funds for the city's safety forces.
Operating three fire stations will improve response times during emergencies and boost safety for citizens and firefighters, officials say.
Each of the two outlying stations will be staffed by three firefighters -- the same as in 1999. The central fire station will have 11 staff members.
Five furloughed firefighters -- some of whom took jobs elsewhere in the city -- returned to the fire department this week after the city issued recall notices last week.
Staff total: This brings the staff to 68, plus the chief -- six short of where staffing will be in coming months, Mulligan said. One firefighter is on extended sick leave.
A civil service exam will be given to add to staffing.
Mulligan is happy the city has three operating stations, but four would be better. That probably won't happen anytime soon, "but there has to be a greater priority given to the fire service by the council and administration," he said.
Two of six fire stations closed and were sold in the early 1970s when 26 firefighters were laid off, Mulligan said. They were on Homewood Avenue and at Park Avenue and Hall Street N.W.
A station on Palmyra Road operated on and off through the 1980s but closed because of a lack of staff.
Good results: Ron White, D-4th, who heads council's police and fire committee, said this morning that response times will improve and that the reopening will have a great effect on the morale of firefighters.