The beginning of a new year has brought the permanent closure of a fire station in the city of Saint John.
Fire Station No. 8 in the city’s Millidgeville neighbourhood officially closed on Friday, following a decision made by Saint John city council in June.
“We were faced with 10 million dollars worth of cuts, and everything was on the table,” says Saint John city councillor John MacKenzie. “We have to balance our budget, and people know that.”
The station’s closure is just one effect of the municipality’s financial challenges.
Fire Station No. 8 was one of two stations in the city’s north end – leaving six fire stations currently in Saint John.
IAFF Local 771 Saint John Firefighters Association, a union representing city firefighters, says 10 people are receiving layoff notices because of the Fire Station No. 8 closure.
“We want them back,” says Brad Lanigan of IAFF Local 771. “Hopefully, we can keep pushing and get the changes and get those guys back.”
A third-party review of Saint John’s fire service is underway.
“We’ll find out through that study if we’re over our number of stations or under, and we’ll go from there,” says John MacKenzie.
Meanwhile, both the city and union agree the provincial government must play a role.
“Tax reform is a huge issue for Saint John,” says Lanigan. “With the risk in the industry and everything that is here, we need to be compensated differently to handle everything.”