Mayor Bing announces layoffs of 164 Detroit firefighters

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Mayor Dave Bing has announced that the city will have to layoff 164 Detroit firefighters by the end of July.

In a statement released today, the mayor said that his administration is expecting a federal grant that could bring back 108 of those jobs.

The mayor released the following statement:

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.

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.

As for the federal money that McNamara says would be coming from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, McNamara says, "The city should have been working on these grants a decade ago".

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