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Niagara Falls Fire Dispatch Stays Put

City council voted unanimously against merging it with St. Catharines, a report by city staff showing the merger would save money

The relief could be felt from Niagara Falls fire fighters who filled city council chambers Tuesday, after council voted unanimously to keep dispatch service in Niagara Falls.

The city's Chief Administrative Officer advised it merge with St. Catharines, to save $240,000 in a strained city budget.  Jason Burgess reminded council it wants to find $1,000,000 in budgetary savings.

But, Niagara Falls Professional Firefighters Association President Justin Canestrero stressed concern for service quality.  "I'm worried that today will be the day that we thought would never come.  A day where a number, or a price, would finally be put on the value of someone's life, whether it be a member of the public, or one of these men and women that are standing behind me."

The Chief Administrative Officer was confident service would be maintained in a merger.  

Councillors, though, sided with arguments for safety.

Burgess reminded council it's his job to find savings in the budget, and the fire department is the biggest expenditure.  "If safety was the primary thing for council, I could say I'll take the $240,000, and I'll go to [Police] Chief Fordy, and I'll say 'Hey Chief, give me two extra officers, and I'll pay for their cars, I want them in Niagara Falls'.... could they save another life?"

He also stressed it's not him against the fire department, claiming he has invested and had more fire fighters hired under his watch.

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