By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
Like the passing of a loved one after a prolonged illness, the confirmation was made official Thursday that six Taylor firefighters will, for the second time this summer, be laid off until further notice.
“It’s like a family member died around here, that’s how it feels,” Fire Chief Bob Pompos said Thursday. “We’re very down about it, and hope that some type of resolution will keep the guys here.”
The six firefighters were recently put back on duty after they were among 48 municipal employees let go in June. As of Friday, the Taylor department has 36 firefighter/paramedics and two administrative staffers, barely half of the pre-budget-crisis payroll of 59. Along with the laid- off firefighters, four have retired from duty.
The current roster is incapable of meeting the contractual requirement to have 14 men on duty per day. Pompos said that service will fall on a dozen firefighters, and a truck will be taken out of service.
However, the same fleet of vehicles may provide temporary relief. Pompos said that an agreement was reached Thursday to sell a ladder truck for an estimated $300,000.
“It’s kind of like pawning a fire truck,” Pompos said.
The purchase by Warren-based J & J Fleet and Fire Truck Service awaits City Council approval on Sept. 6. Provided the city’s elected officials allocate those funds to the department, Pompos said that the revenue could restore those six positions for 12 to 15 weeks.
That, too, is a temporary measure. Negotiations between the city and the firefighters union continue with little indication that either side will blink first, and those discussions join considerations of joint ventures with neighboring departments as hopeful remedies to the staffing problem.
The decision in June to lay off 48 municipal employees resulted from a $12 million budget deficit. Contract negotiations dating back to April have failed to find compromises to restore city staffing levels.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])