LORAIN, Ohio – More 75 firefighters and citizens supporting the Lorain Fire Department gathered at Veterans Park in downtown Lorain Tuesday and then marched over to city hall, upset over layoffs that they say are putting both the community and firefighters at risk.
All but one fire station was closed and 22 firefighters were laid off July 1st to help the city manage a more than a three-million-dollar budget deficit.
Lorain firefighters had taken about a half a million dollars in cuts and concessions during the initial budget crisis meetings, but it hasn’t been enough and now 1/3 of the department is off the job.
As a result Ken Shawver, president of the local firefighters’ union says response times have doubled and even tripled.
Firefighters have been forced to rely upon neighboring cities like Elyria for help at several large fires this past week and during the July 4th holiday weekend.
“We have one vehicle with only 2 or 3 guys on a truck, respond to a scene and they can’t make aggressive attack,” said Shawver. “And if it was somebody’s life at stake we would not get inside until back up got there.”
That is especially troubling not only to Lorain firefighters but others in neighboring cities like Elyria who have been responding “nearly constantly” to help.
Tim McGoldrick with Parma Heights Fire Department attended the protest because he says the situation is incredibly dangerous. Tim says a fast response time is critical to prevent loss of life and property. “A fire doubles in size every minute and every minute delay puts people at risk.”
Mayor Chase Rittenhauer and city council have expressed their concerns and applied for a federal grant that would allow them to bring back some of the laid off employees. They’re hoping a press conference called for 9:30 Wednesday morning by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur will bring them good news about the status of the grant.
But city leaders have already begun looking into alternatives, just in case it falls through.
READ MORE: Fox8.com
Article Courtesy of WJW Fox 8 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Getty Images