Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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Newburgh firefighters union worried about impending layoffs

Firefighters picket outside Monday night's city council meeting

NEWBURGH – City of Newburgh firefighters, along with members of neighboring municipal fire departments, showed up in force to picket the Newburgh City Council, Monday evening, in response to imminent layoffs that could occur due to lack of funding.

As of Monday, there are nine full-time firefighter positions that could be removed from the budget. Originally, there were 12; however, the council decided to maintain three of those.

It was suggested to close down one of the city’s firehouses during nighttime hours to save money. This could potentially leave a minimum of seven firefighters on nighttime shifts to respond to fires, car accidents and other incidents.

Members of the city’s fire department are especially troubled because they respond to neighboring community’s emergencies, in addition to Newburgh’s, as they are one of just a few full-time paid fire departments in the area – West Point and the Stewart Air National Guard being the others.

The city has applied for federal SAFER grant funding, but after receiving it twice, the odds of them acquiring it again are precarious.

President of Local 589 of the firefighters union Brendan Hogan said he wishes firefighters within the city didn’t have to worry about their job security so often, and more so, the community worry about their own safety with a lack of first responders; but, he said it’s in the council’s hands now.

“Unfortunately we can’t make their budget decisions for them,” said Hogan. “We know how important public safety is, whether it’s police or fire. The federal money that’s out there is fantastic. I hope we get it; but, short of that, I don’t know what they’ll do to find it.”

As of now, if no additional funding is secured, nine of the firefighters paid for with the current federal grant, will be laid off on July 29.


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