The Lorain Fire Department is planning to lay off 23 firefighters beginning on July 1, unless a federal grant comes through that would save those jobs for two more years.
Firefighter and current Union 267 President Ken Shawver says if the current layoff proposal goes through, staffing will be half off what it was when he was hired in 1998. At that time the department had close to 100 firefighters.
Shawver said he worries about what will happen if the layoffs take effect and the city has a fire similar to the one that broke out in 2002, when the Fairway Manor apartments were destroyed.
"We had enough people on the scene at the time to go through and get everybody out before it went haywire there," said Shawver, "If we were at the manning that we are going to be at after these layoffs, I don't think at all that we would have been able to get everybody out on time."
The city of Lorain is facing a $3.6 million budget shortfall. The firefighter cuts will save the city $1.4 million.
"The city should find other things to cut. Personally, I think the councilmen should have their wages cut. I think the mayor should have his wages cut. There's other ways to do it," said Beatrice Popovich of Lorain.
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer released this statement:
"The city of Lorain remains hopeful that the SAFER grant awards will be announced very soon, and that our fire department will be selected as a SAFER grant recipient so firefighter layoffs can be avoided. We continue to work with our representatives in the federal government in lobbying for funding to continue Lorain Fire Department operations."
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