Detroit announces layoffs for scores of its firefighters
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DETROIT -- The City of Detroit will lay off 164 firefighters by the end of July, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office announced Monday afternoon.
The layoffs could be temporary because the city hopes to secure a federal grant to restore the jobs of 108 firefighters. Still, there is no guarantee the city will get the grant, Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin said amid budget talks this spring.
"Since I became mayor, I've made public safety my top priority, and I've said I would protect the jobs of police and firefighters, but fiscal realities have made this untenable," Mr. Bing said in a statement. "With my administration continuing to work to fiscally stabilize the city and with recent cuts to the city's budget, we're announcing the layoffs of 164 Detroit Fire Department firefighters by the end of July."
Mr. Bing said he hopes that many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters who will lose their jobs will be recalled as the fire department loses others through retirement and attrition. The Detroit Fire Department has 881 sworn firefighters and 248 EMS technicians.
Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, called the layoffs disastrous and said the action will force 16 fire companies throughout the city to close.
"For as long as we've been fighting fires in the city of Detroit, we have guaranteed that if you call us, we will come," Mr. McNamara said in statement. "If these cuts remain, there will be times when we won't have the necessary resources to respond. We have a disaster waiting to happen that will likely result in not only the loss of property, but potentially the loss of lives."
Mr. McNamara said Mr. Bing is calling for $23 million in Detroit Fire Department cuts that "will put its fire department and its residents at great risk -- increasing response times and further taxing an already greatly reduced workforce."
"Laying off any of our courageous and dedicated public safety personnel is the last thing I want to do at this point, but I have to face this hard reality," the mayor said. "I have every confidence in Commissioner Austin and the men and women of the fire department to maintain their highest standards of fire services and public safety for our citizens."
First Published June 26, 2012 12:00 am