Fall River fire department cutbacks - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Fall River fire department cutbacks

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Nicole Gerber

FALL RIVER - 25 firefighters will be laid off in Fall River. It's part of a deal reached last night between the mayor and the local firefighters' union.

But there are concerns about the safety of the city, with an emergency response department down to the bare bones.
Residents on North Main St. are showing their support of the firefighters by posting signs in their front lawns.

They say they are worried about their safety with a fire department down to 175 members. It's not the 153 members that the city originally called for when officials realized cuts are necessary because of grant money that's set to run out in June.

But it's certainly not ideal.

"In some areas in the city we're going to be a little bit slower, the first engine will be there at the same time they would have normally been, but we don't get things done with just that first engine, it's the manpower that we need, that's when we're able to complete all our tasks at a scene," said Jason Burns, president of the local firefighters union.

"It's worrisome, you know when you have a small child you obviously don't want to put them in danger, there are a lot of elderly people in the city as well," said Ron Geary, who has a support sign in his front lawn.

The firefighters who will be laid off will be offered positions in other cities and towns in Massachusetts as they become available, though there's no guarantee of employment.

"But I believe everybody understand the fiscal climate that the city is faced with, and Fall River is not unique compared with other places," said Mayor William Flanagan.

The city's goal is to get the fire department back up to 200 members within the next three years or so, but there's no telling where the extra money will come from in order to do that.

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