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Syracuse hires 6 Oswego firefighters, angering some city councilors

Tom Magnarelli
Councilor Helen Hudson in the Syracuse Common Council chambers.

The city of Oswego cut 17 firefighter positions this year, due to a budget deficit. But six of those firefighters have now been hired by the Syracuse Fire Department. Some Syracuse common councilors are upset that Syracuse residents were not considered for the positions.

Common Council President Van Robinson voiced his objection. Councilor Helen Hudson called it unfair and a disservice to the residents of Syracuse who have passed a civil service exam and are waiting to get into the fire department.

“I have a problem with that because we have city residents that have a stake in this community, that have lived here all their lives, that should be given that opportunity to have those jobs,” Hudson said. "We have the highest rate of concentrated poverty but we're giving away jobs."

At a Common Council meeting, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s Chief of Staff Bill Ryan took responsibility.

“The reason I came to the microphone is because this decision was not made by Chief Linnertz, it was made by me,” Ryan said.

Ryan called in a win-win situation. The Syracuse Fire Department had 10 vacancies that needed to be filled.

"We have to pay overtime to fill all of those positions," Ryan said.

Ryan said it also costs about $25,000 to train a new firefighter but it will cost only $3,000 to train the firefighters from Oswego. And under new collective bargaining, new firefighters will have to live in the city of Syracuse for five years.  

“They will be subjected to rules that the rest of the department are not,” Ryan said.

Hudson expressed doubts that the Oswego firefighters would fully move to Syracuse. Oswego Fire Chief Jeffrey McCrobie applauded the city of Syracuse for making this move and says it will be a fantastic opportunity for the new hires.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.