UPDATE Tuesday morning - There were more suspicious fires this morning on Detroit’s east side. WDIV-TV looks at that and the plan to go from 14 investigators to 9 (previously it had been 19)
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’s laying off 164 city firefighters by the end of July.
The mayor made the announcement Monday, but also said he expects the city will get a federal grant to fund and restore 108 of the positions.
And Bing says many of the remaining 56 firefighters will be recalled through attrition.
Bing’s announcement comes just hours after firefighters fought about 16 fires on the city’s east side overnight and early morning. One firefighter was injured in one of the fires. Fires were reported in mostly vacant buildings in the areas of Moran and Medbury, Mt. Elliot and Warren, Hancock and McDougall, Erskine and Chene and Chene and Ferry.
The fire department has 1,257 employees, including 881 firefighters and 248 EMS technicians. According to the city, the department responds to 30,000 fire calls annually, plus 135,000 EMS calls.
In responding to Monday’s layoff announcement, Dan McNamara, President of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, fired back saying, “These decisions are indefensible”.
“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”, said McNamara.
McNamara hopes the city reconsiders the layoffs because he says Detroit’s Fire Department is already a couple hundred fire fighters short of what should be their minimum staffing level.
“We used to tell everybody in the city that if you call us we’ll be there and we don’t know if it’s going to be that way anymore,” said McNamara.
“In fact, if you want a good city — a city where people are gonna live, people are gonna recreate, people are gonna visit you have to have them know they’re safe,” he said. “And with the reductions with us, EMS and fire, it’s just not going to be seen that way.”
Statement from Mayor Dave Bing:
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.
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. But my administration has every expectation of being awarded a federal grant to fund and restore 108 of those positions. And many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition.
The current 2012-2013 budget also allows for the hiring of Emergency Medical Technicians to bolster the number of EMS staff who responded to 135,000 calls each year, or 81% of the calls to Fire Department.
Until the Fire Department receives the grant, Commissioner Don Austin and his staff have developed a plan to effectively and efficiently maintain the highest levels of fire service for the city’s citizens.
Among the components of the plan:
- 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 & Fire Corps to support our firefighters;
- And continuing our 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.
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Also on STATter911 …
- UPDATED: Detroit sends out order closing 15 fire companies. 200 firefighters to be demoted. – July 2, 2012
- ‘When seconds count, we’re only minutes away’. TV reporter Charlie LeDuff gives a status update on the Detroit Fire Department. – January 22, 2013
- Detroit reporter Charlie LeDuff at it again. Finds donated tower unused & Highland Park’s mayor begging for it. – May 8, 2012
- Detroit stories: Report claims 21 minute response time to house fire. Also, fire inspections years behind. – January 21, 2013
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