PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) - Firefighters in Pontiac are bracing for the end of the road.
The city's emergency manager wants Waterford Township to take over fire protection, and while he is promising everyone will have a job, Pontiac firefighters fear the worst.
"It's a scary thought," says Pontiac Fire Lieutenant Hector Martinez.
A representative from the International Association of Firefighters in Washington, DC was in Pontiac today to meet with local union representatives to discuss the proposed merger.
Louis Schimmel, the state-imposed emergency manager, tells 7 Action News the cash flow picture is dismal and the city is facing a $12 million deficit each year. Closing the fire department, Schimmel says, is one part of the solution and will save the city $3 million.
Schimmel says pay and benefit cuts will come with the deal.
"If we do everything the same, we'll be out of business and nobody's going to get paid," Schimmel says. "They'll all lose their jobs."
Schimmel has given firefighters until Friday to ratify the deal.
If they put up a fight, Schimmel says he will impose it anyway in January and Waterford will look elsewhere to hire firefighters.
Firefighters will be picketing from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Tuesday to bring attention to the issue, and make one last attempt to save a department that has been around for almost 200 years.
The picket, organized by Local 376 which represents the Pontiac firefighters, will start at the Waterford Civic Center.
“I’m fourth generation Pontiac firefighter," says Pontiac Fire Captain Jeff Nye. "It would be an extreme disappointment for us not to wear this Pontiac fire patch anymore.”
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