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Round of layoffs hit Canton Fire Department

Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 25, 2016
Canton’s fire department announced layoff notices went out to ten firefighters this week, the result of city budget negotiations. Previously, Mayor Tom Bernabei said the city needed to fill a $5.1 million budget gap, due to a reduction in income tax revenue and budget cuts from the state.
 
"It was very hard to do, to look them in the face, as their union president, and hand them a notice that they were being laid off, when it was clearly not our decision,” Canton Professional Firefighters Association President Brian Garber said.
 
The department is still understaffed following layoffs in 2009. Chief Tom Garra said the department should have about 175 firefighters, but right now only has 146, and will be down to 136 following layoffs that take effect April 29.
 
“No matter what the reason for the cuts, it’s going to hurt the safety of the citizens of Canton,” Chief Garra said. "It just is. Our response times will be longer because we have farther to go. We have less fire fighters to do the job. “
 
The cuts also mean Fire Station 2, located at 415 Belden Ave. SE, which had been temporarily closed, will now be permanently closed. Once that happens, just four of the city’s eight fire stations will be staffed.
 
A Canton city spokesman said Mayor Bernabei was on vacation for the holiday weekend and could not immediately be reached.

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