13 firefighters could be laid off without federal grant - WNEM TV 5

13 firefighters could be laid off without federal grant

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A Mid-Michigan city has relied on a federal grant for years to keep firefighters on the job, but now that money might not be coming this year.

Trouble could be on the horizon for the Saginaw Fire Department. The city, which has been losing revenue for several years, doesn't have enough money to pay all of its firefighters.

As of now, 13 current staffers could soon be out of a job.

"There is no new revenue stream coming in that would warrant 13 firefighters at this time. There just isn't," Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning said.

For the past few years the city has relied on the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (or SAFER) grant to pay for much needed staffing in the fire department.

Browning said if that grant isn't renewed some serious changes could be coming.

"Quite likely that will mean the closure of fire stations. We have four fire stations that we have right now, it may mean closure of those. That's up to the fire department," Browning said.

The one year SAFER grant has been keeping fire staffing levels above water for the last few years, compensating for the city's loss of tax revenue when the population declined by half.

Browning said the preference would be to not need federal money to run the fire department, but in a cash-strapped city there's not much that can be done.

"We need an improved economy. We need people to have more jobs. We need more economic development. We need more residents to move into the community. Would help pay those additional fees, but the cost of doing business goes up every year," Browning said.

The mayor said they don't have to make any final decisions yet, but if they do have to layoff firefighters, the 13 most recent hires will be the ones to go.

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