Houston firefighters gather to meet with fire chief about layoffs

By Brittany Jeffers - Reporter, Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

HOUSTON - Dozens of Houston Fire Department vehicles from all across the city lined Smith and Jefferson streets early Thursday morning to receive news about their employment.

Last week, the Houston City Council voted to approve the layoffs of 220 firefighters.

On Wednesday, hundreds received an email letting them know they’ll be out of a job on June 30. On Thursday, they got that news in person. 

“The firefighters that were emailed layoff notices were also called to come down here apparently to reiterate the email that was sent out to lay off 220 of our brave women and men along with 67 cadets and 454 demotions,” said Marty Lancton, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President.

Lancton said that firefighters were not warned about the meeting and some of them met with the chief in person. 

Mayor Sylvester Turner has said the city could not afford the annual $100 million for pay parity, which is why he says the layoffs are happening.  Dozens of Houston Fire Department vehicles were pulled out of service for the meetings, a move, according to Lancton, is a safety issue

“Again, any reduction in having apparatuses there to respond to the citizens' emergencies is absolutely a problem and should be a concern for all Houstonians,” Lancton said.

Day three of court-ordered mediation continued between city, police and fire unions.

"I'm hoping for a positive outcome. I'm hoping that I can come back out and tell you this issue has been successfully resolved. Let's all hope for that. Today is the national day of prayer, so, I'm hopeful. Let's put it that way," Turner said. 

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