The union representing Halifax firefighters is disputing claims that the city could close several fire stations without seeing a significant increase in response times.

Halifax councillors are mulling the move as part of a reorganization of the city’s fire service.

On Tuesday, councillors were scheduled to debate a report made by the fire department’s management that claims several stations could be closed without compromising response times — but the meeting was postponed due to inclement weather.

In response to the report from management, the firefighter’s union commissioned its own report, disputing the claims.

Union president Jim Gates says management’s report is flawed because of the software used to determine travel times from stations to the scenes of fires.

“It took in an awful lot of areas we don’t respond to anyways, such as parks, recreation fields,” Gates said, adding the report didn’t pay as much attention to the road network itself.

If council adopts and implements the fire department management report, Gates said, there will be even more stress on resources, including firefighters and equipment.

He points to the recent chemical crisis in Grand Desert, N.S. — which tied up resources for five days — as an example.

“That effectively took two companies out of the mix. If they close Fire Station 4, if they close Fire Station 13, that even prolongs the response from other areas,” Gates said.

Halifax Fire Chief Doug Trussler disputes that, saying the department will be able to handle two fires or even HAZMAT situations simultaneously.

“We would have spare vehicles … If we don’t have the number of trained HAZMAT technicians on shift, we would call in overtime,” Trussler said.

He said he’s confident the management report and recommendations going to city council are sound, including conclusions around station closures and response times.

Part of the plan being considered by councillors involves closing three fire stations, located in downtown Dartmouth, North End Halifax, and Lower Sackville.

City councillor Gloria McCluskey is one of the opponents of the plan.

“I want to remove that section from the report altogether, to close those fire stations,” she said.

McCluskey, who represents Dartmouth Centre, said she met on Monday with unionized firefighters and is convinced that response times will increase to downtown Dartmouth, where there are a number of seniors’ housing complexes.

“I certainly don’t believe I’m going to have a safe fire service,” she said.

Not so, says Trussler.

“We’re going to be able to get to the fire risk in the council-approved service delivery standard,” he said.

That standard is five minutes, 90 per cent of the time.

Council’s debate on the matter is now scheduled for Feb. 2.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Rick Grant