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SFD sends out alarm: Union says closing of station may endanger commuters

— With a $20 million budget gap facing Syracuse, the city’s busiest fire station may be on the line.

City officials have floated the idea of closing down Syracuse Fire Department Engine Company No. 7, located at 1039 E. Fayette St. But the members of Local No. 280, the firefighters’ union, say that would be a very bad idea.

“In the past two years, we’ve had several incidents of multiple fires in the city. We were stripped, using every resource,” said Paul Motondo, vice president of Local No. 280. “Losing an engine company, especially this one because of where it is and what its responses are, it’ll create a huge void.”

Engine Company No. 7 covers almost two-thirds of the city, from downtown east through Syracuse University and north to the city’s historic Hawley-Green neighborhood. In addition to the university, the station’s response area includes all of Syracuse’s hospitals.

The station also responds to most of the calls concerning commuters coming into the city.

“Eighty percent of them are covered by this engine company in their first or second response area,” Motondo said. “That’s essential.”

The company itself consists of 16 firefighters, who man a fire pumper truck and a mini-truck that does all of the medical runs. There are four men on per shift and four shifts.

In 2012, the station responded to a total of 5,391 fire and medical calls, the most in the city.

Despite the high volume of calls for which the station is responsible, the station itself is crumbling. The building, constructed in 1892 and rebuilt in 1953, hasn’t had any major repairs in decades.

“In the last 20 years or so, the building has deteriorated,” Motondo said. “The floors, the facilities, the condition of the windows, the roof, the doors — everything is in pretty bad shape. We’ve even had chunks of concrete falling down in the basement as the trucks drive over it.”

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