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Canandaigua City Fire Dept. staffing at the center of Tuesday forum

The debate over staffing of the Canandaigua City Fire Department was the focus of a special meeting Tuesday night at Wood Library.

Claims that the department is understaffed date back several years. Last year, those concerns were brought up again after a fire destroyed a popular restaurant.

Some say more career firefighters are needed to adequately cover the city.

The consultant’s study backs that idea – and the idea for more volunteer recruitment. The Center for Public Safety Management says the amount of calls fire crews respond to each year is increasing, and more than 20 percent of calls are happening at the same time.

Currently, the fire department deploys from two fire stations – one firefighter at each one – and is covered by by four different departments who come in for mutual aid.

Among the recommendations, an expert with the center said the city should explore financial incentives for volunteer firefighters, and adopt an aggressive approach for recruitment. He went on to say, in a perfect world, there would be four firefighters at all times, daily.

“We went through this process because we are concerned and do understand the risk,” explained Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni. “And what we are trying to do is move forward with a process that will help us meet the needs.”

“We are lacking volunteers, frankly,” said Canandaigua Fire Chief Frank Magnera. “We’ve been trying to get out there and canvas the public.”

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