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Detroit to lay off 65 firefighters

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Detroit is laying off 65 more firefighters and 10 battalion chiefs as part of a restructuring that will include deactivating five fire companies, Detroit Fire Commissioner Tyrone Scott said Thursday. The moves are expected to save about $8 million annually, about half of what the Detroit City Council had ordered cut from the Detroit Fire Department in its unanimously adopted budget.

This will mean more cuts from other departments, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said, because he will not make any further fire or police layoffs.

A Detroit Police Department restructuring plan announced Monday, a plan that will close half the police precincts and lay off 150 officers, is expected save about $20 million. That also fell short of the $53 million in cuts ordered in the 2005-2006 budget, which the City Council adopted to help offset an estimated $300 million deficit.

“This leaves about $40 million to cut from other places, from other departments, and we are looking for other possible revenue sources, too,” Kilpatrick said. Public safety budget amendments will be presented to the council when it returns to session after Labor Day, he said.

“I am not cutting any further police officers or firefighters,” the mayor said.

Scott said the fire department cut $25 million from its budget before submitting it to the council last fall, then laid off 59 firefighters and deactivated five companies in July as this budget year began.

This restructuring consolidates the eight current battalions into five and reduces battalion-chief posts from 26 to 16, Scott said.

The fire companies being deactivated are:

Ladder 16, 7000 Miller Ave., near Mt. Elliott and Conant.

Ladder 24, 182236 Livernois Ave.

Engine 21, 10325 Linwood Ave.

Engine 47, 17475 Mt. Elliott.

Tactical Unit 2, 111 W. Montcalm.

The plan also reassigns all but three firefighters from Engine 20, the Detroit City Airport’s crash crew, to local fire stations and returns all out-of-fire battalion details to assigned fire stations to augment staffing, Scott said. Two community-relations officers laid off in July will be called back to improve fire-safety education, he said.

The net effect, Scott said, reduces firefighter daily staffing to 247 from 266.

Within the next six months, Fire Department officials will complete a study to determine where the city should build several large, modern “super stations,” since voters have approved capital spending for the fire department, Kilpatrick and Scott said.

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