PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Mayor Bill Peduto wants a turf battle between EMS River Rescue and the city’s fireboat crew to be settled for the good of public safety.
The mayor reacted to KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan’s report which documented a number of search and rescue incidents where River Rescue told the fireboat crew their help was not needed.
One of those incidents involved a woman who jumped from the Homestead Grays Bridge In July. Incidents reports and emergency transmissions indicate the fireboat arrived first on the scene but was told to wait for River Rescue and not to bring the woman onboard and begin life-saving measures.
The mayor cited historic tensions between between the firefighters and EMS over their respective duties and said those differences need to be resolved.
“It’s not something new. It’s always a struggle between the two unions in order to be able to protect jobs, and that’s what it comes down to. You have both unions wanting to expand their mission to be able to create more jobs in their union. Our job is to make sure the city remains safe through that struggle,” Peduto said.
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich is investigating the bridge incident, but the mayor said this may be time to reevaluate a possible merger of EMS and the Fire Bureau to end these jurisdictional disputes and better serve the public.