Garden City FD considers plan to use only volunteer firefighters

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GARDEN CITY -

The Garden City Fire Department is considering a plan to use only volunteer firefighters, but some paid members say they just found out about the proposal.

The village has maintained a paid fire department for the past 90 years. Currently, there are 12 paid firefighters.

Residents say village trustees are making the move to cut costs by more than $2 million.

Peter Cappeli, who's lived in Garden City for 20 years, says he doesn't mind paying for firefighters through taxpayer dollars.

"I mind paying for other stuff -- not firefighters," he says. "If there's a fire, I need a firefighter."

T.J. Michon, one of the paid firefighters who stands to lose his job, says the board gave residents less than 48 hours' notice about the planned vote to abolish the department -- and there was no public hearing on the proposal. He says his colleagues and the village have been locked in contentious contract negotiations for more than seven years.

"In that time, the village has continued to violate the contract, and we've exercised our right to enforce that, and we continue to win arbitration decisions upholding our contract," he says. "So we feel that this is probably some sort of retaliation."

Some residents say eliminating the firefighters would jeopardize public safety.

"We've never had any trouble," says Richard Colucci. "You have an emergency. They come right away."

News 12 did not immediately hear back from village board members for comment.

The trustees are scheduled to vote on the matter at a public meeting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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