The Tonawanda City Council hired a new assistant fire chief and three additional firefighters Tuesday.
Donald Kramer is the newest of six assistant chiefs. He replaces Thomas Miller, appointed by the Council on May 16 to succeed outgoing Fire Chief John Flemming, who is retiring Friday. Kramer and Miller will assume their new jobs Saturday.
Added to the city's fire rolls, effective July 10, were Michael Lamp, Timothy Newman and Michael Young. They each will be paid $24,785.94 annually.
The necessity for the new hirings was questioned by Tonawanda Taxpayers Association President Elaine Brudz, who based her query on a December 1989 Fire Department study.
The $5,700 study, performed by Collette Griffin of Griffin Associates, recommended consolidating the city's three firehouses into one central location. She also recommended that because of significant attrition expected in the department this year through retirements, the Council look into developing more part-time, temporary and flexible personnel.
Since the study, six new firefighters have been hired, including those appointed Tuesday. That brings the paid firefighting staff to 31.
"To maintain what we have, the department requires 31 men," said Alderman David McKay, chairman of the Fire Committee.
"Because something is recommended doesn't mean we're going to do it," he said. The study's findings were taken under advisement by the Council and it was decided, "for the good of the city, we are comfortable with the department as it stands," he said.
Fire insurance rates are based on the amount of manpower and equipment available, Flemming added. The new hires, he said, are necessary not only for safety, but to keep insurance rates down. Alderman Thomas Smyers noted that the additional firefighters will keep down overtime charges.