Fire officials meet to discuss possible layoffs, firehouse closures

CINCINNATI - More details could be released this week about what might happen if Cincinnati leaders decide to layoff 120 firefighters.

The union president and the fire chief met Tuesday behind closed doors at the Cincinnati Fire Department's headquarters to discuss their options.

In all, 16 of the department's 40 engine companies could be affected.

Potential cuts include closing the fire houses in Clifton, Hyde Park, Over-the-Rhine and Sedamsville.

The Cincinnati Firefighters Union says the fire houses would have to shut down because of the city's plan to layoff 120 firefighters under the current budget plan.

According to the city manager's office, the proposed layoffs include 80 firefighters and 38 recruits who were recently sworn in. Two other recruits who are currently in training would also be laid off.

The city is facing a $35 million deficit and must have a balanced budget for fiscal year 2014 by July 1.

Firefighters union president Matt Alter feels that cutting engine companies will put the public at greater risk with longer response times and more brownouts than the five occurring daily in the current state of the department.

"If the house is on fire and the kids are inside and you've got to decide which one do you grab?" Alter said. "That's where you're at.  Who do you protect? Because when you protect one, you're not protecting the other."

Budget director Lea Erikson has pointed out that if all 344 of the proposed layoffs were to go forward, the cost to do that would add another $10 million to the shortfall to cover severance costs.

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