NY Daily News - April 09, 2019by DENIS SLATTERY
A Brooklyn City Councilman plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday calling on the mayor to permanently staff FDNY engine companies with five firefighters and an officer at the outset of each tour.
Most engine companies in the five boroughs are staffed with four smoke-eaters. Currently, 20 have a “fifth man” who assists the team in case things go sideways — but Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) says all 198 houses should have the extra set of hands.
“Every year, the FDNY responds to more emergencies than the year before. The bottom line is the “5th man” helps the brave men and women of the FDNY put out fires safer and faster — especially in extreme New York City temperatures,” he told the Daily News.
The de Blasio’s administration and the FDNY had recently looked to eliminate the “fifth man” position completely and have been pushing the firefighters union to get its members to reduce the amount of medical leave they take. Plans for the cuts were walked back, but Brannan said he wants assurances that all engine companies will be fully staffed.
“Not having fully staffed engine companies is a safety issue for all New Yorkers not just our firefighters. So why in God’s name would you wanna take the 5th man away?” he said.
The staffing issue has long been a bone of contention during contract negotiations between firefighters and the city. Brannan said the fight goes beyond the negotiating table.
Jake LaMonda, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, applauded Brannan’s efforts and said the issue is a matter of life and death.
“Staffing is such a critical element in the protection of the citizens of New York,” he said. “The FDNY units are challenged on a daily basis in fulfilling our roles due to historic number of responses.”
LaMonda said the city must take steps “which assure proper manning throughout the city for every area in which we protect.”