DETROIT (WWJ) – Following a night of suspected arson fires, and ahead of Detroit’s big fireworks show, came word that dozens of firefighters will soon be laid off.
According to a statement from Mayor Dave Bing’s office, 164 firefighters will be pink-slipped by the end of next month. That’s more than one-fifth of the current force.
However, the statement also says the city is in line for a federal grants that should allow the department to call back more than 100 firefighters, and the rest may be called back through attrition.
In a statement our Monday, Bing said the city’s dire fiscal situation is forcing him to make this move.
” … 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,” said Bing. “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.”
The announcement came just hours after Detroit fire crews responded to a string of about 16 building fires on the city’s east side overnight.
Dan McNamara President of the Detroit Firefighters Association calls the move “disastrous.”
“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.”
The city’s plan also calls for the closure of 16 fire companies.