Firefighter Layoff Controversy in South Euclid

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By FOX 8 News Reporter Brittany Harris

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio-- The city is getting ready to give five firefighters the axe, and some aren’t too happy about it.

Union President Dan Drees said it’s a bad move and will put the community at risk. He said there won’t be enough manpower to provide a second ambulance if one is needed during an emergency. He also worries about response times for crews. “We just can't flat out provide the services that we are now,” said Drees.

The city said it had no choice but to lay off the firefighters to help keep the budget out of the red in the years to come. They also assured residents that these cuts have been well thought out, and will not impact public safety.

Council members have proposed various ideas to spare these jobs like a possible tax levy. Something Richard Green doesn’t agree with. “Oh sure, why don't they just run up the street and grab everybody by the ankles and shake all the money out of their pockets?” he said.

Residents will get a chance to offer input at next week’s city council meeting.

South Euclid Finance Director James Smith issued FOX 8 this statement regarding the matter:

"South Euclid has lost millions of dollars in revenue as a result of drastic cuts from the State. Since the recession of 2008, the City has reduced expenses and personnel in all other departments except our Safety Forces (with the exception of three firefighters that were paid as part of a federal grant program). However with the devastating cuts from the State, and more expected in the State’s upcoming budget and House Bill 5, South Euclid must begin to reorganize our safety forces, as we have already done with our other City departments.

If the City takes no action we will be in the red and facing fiscal emergency by 2015. As a result, we need to begin a whole new way of thinking and delivering critical services to residents with substantially less resources. Cities similar to South Euclid, throughout Northeast Ohio and the State, have already made similar staff reductions and have done so efficiently and effectively.

Our Fire Chief has put together a reorganization plan that will maintain critical staffing levels and ensure that when residents need assistance during an emergency, our Safety Forces will be there with a level of service our residents expect.

These are challenging times, but we are confident that we will continue to provide critical emergency services for our residents and at the same time be fiscally responsible, leverage all of our available resources to improve effectiveness and maintain levels of service to the best of our abilities. By taking these reorganization actions now, we are creating capacity and being fiscally responsible so that we can continue to provide critical services to our residents and keep all residents safe, not just today, but in the coming years."