DETROIT - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on Monday said 164 firefighters would be laid off by the end of July.
"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," Bing said.
Bing said his administration has "every expectation" of being awarded a federal grant to rehire 108 of the firefighters.
"Many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition," Bing said.
Until the Fire Department receives the grant, Bing said Fire Commissioner Don Austin and his staff have developed a plan to maintain safety in the community.
- Better deploying engines from adjacent sectors and using newly installed GPS systems in the engines and rigs to best dispatch fire department personnel;
- Conducting thorough risks/gain analysis of interior versus exterior fire suppression;
- Increase the use of CERT and Fire Corps
Continue community fire prevention education
"Again, 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. I have every confidence in Commissioner Austin and the men and woman of the Fire Department to maintain their highest standards of fire services and public safety for our citizens," Bing said.
Detroit Fire Department facts
Total Uniformed & Civilian Personnel = 1257
Total Sworn Fire Fighters = 881
Total EMS Technicians = 248
Fire Suppression = Estimated 30,000 calls for service annually; with an estimated 9,500 false alarms.
EMS= Estimated 135,000 calls for service annually.
Firebug on the loose in Detroit
The mayor's announcement comes the same day as firefighters battled nearly a dozen arsons in an area on the city's east side.
Eleven fires sent flames and smoke into the sky at several buildings in the area of Chene and Ferry. Most of the buildings to burn were vacant, but one was a church and at least one had people living inside it.
Official statement from Detroit Fire Fighters Association
In a disastrous turn of events, Mayor Dave Bing today issued layoff notices to 164 fire fighters and announced the closing of 16 fire companies putting into immediate danger the safety of Detroit's fire fighters, residents, visitors and taxpayers.
"These decisions are indefensible," said Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association Local 344. "Earlier this year, the city and the DFFA sat together and hammered out an agreement that would have greatly minimized these cuts and kept the city protected. However, at the last minute, they decided not to honor the deal – even though it had already been signed."
McNamara continued, "Mayor Bing is now calling for $23 million in cuts from the Detroit Fire Department. In the agreement they backed out of, we proposed up to $31 million in real savings including significant give backs and necessary restructuring – with no layoffs and only closing six fire companies permanently."
These cuts by the city will put its Fire Department and its residents at great risk – increasing response times and further taxing an already greatly reduced workforce.
"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," said McNamara. "If these cuts remain, there will be times when we won't have the necessary resources to respond. Add to this the Fire Commission Donald Austin's previously stated policy to ‘let buildings burn' we have a disaster waiting to happen that will likely result in not only the loss of property, but potentially the loss of lives."
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