FDNY Firefighters Urge Lawmakers To Keep ‘Fifth Man’

April 01, 2019 - 3:30 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Dozens of FDNY firefighters descended on City Hall Monday morning to urge lawmakers to stop an effort to remove firefighters from engines throughout New York.

“Over money, we are losing the fifth man in 20 fire engine companies across the city of New York,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, the president of the FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association.

The city is looking to cut a minimum of 20 firefighters who act as what is called the “fifth man.” As WCBS 880’s Kevin Rincon reports, these firefighters act as an extra hand during response calls and work on hose lines, helping to battle fires even faster.

Firefighters say without the extra person, it will force engines to respond to emergencies with only four firefighters, leading to potential casualties and injuries to civilians and firefighters.

“We are responding to more runs than ever before, we're almost up to 620,000 that we responded to in 2018 and now they want us to do it with even less,” said Jake LaMonda, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

He says the debate isn't even worth having.

“$90 billion – that's not a fake number, that's the budget in the city of New York,” he says. “$90 billion and they are quibbling over 20 firefighters.”

Over the years, as part of contract talks, the “fifth man” has been an area that’s often seen cuts.

In 2017, the de Blasio administration moved to reinstate those positions and the hope for many is that the positions will be left alone.