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Concessions not enough as Pa. city lays off 11 firefighters

Wilkes-Barre union boss: 'This makes me want to (expletive) puke'

By FireRescue1 Staff

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Despite several financial concessions by firefighters, Wilkes-Barre laid off 11 of its firefighters. They were notified Thursday.

According to the Citizens Voice, the move appears to have taken Wilkes-Barre Firefighters Association President Mike Bilski by surprise.

"Having to write this e-mail makes me want to (expletive) puke," Bilski wrote in an email to firefighters. "I apologize to everyone affected by this. I (expletive) up thinking we could make a deal to save jobs and I (expletive) up telling some of you guys you were safe."

City officials were less candid about the layoffs.

In an official statement, city administrators said they would try to bring firefighters back, but did not say how many or when, the paper reported. The mayor's office also said it would not comment beyond what was in its press release.

The release did say that the mayor's office believes the layoffs will not put the public at risk. It did not say how that can be achieved, the paper reported.

Bilski told the paper that the layoffs will make maintaining minimum staffing at the fire stations very difficult when firefighters are off for holidays or vacations.

The firefighters had already given up a 3 percent pay raise, several paid holidays and $1,500 training bonuses. Earlier, five firefighters took an early retirement package as part of a plan to avoid layoffs.

This was supposed to save the city $500,000; the city is trying to close an estimated $2 million budget gap.

After this round of layoffs, the fire department is left with 53 firefighters. It had 88 firefighters in 2001 and 69 at the start of 2012, according to Citizens Voice.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Jackie Bedics Loosbrock Jackie Bedics Loosbrock Saturday, December 01, 2012 12:03:01 PM WOW not good! Hope Bethlehem doesn’t ever get this bad!
Charles Cunningham Charles Cunningham Saturday, December 01, 2012 2:05:02 PM It amazes me that governments expect the public service sectors to work with minimal manpower. Especially the fire service. This is all done because of budget deficits. They need to make the other departments take those drastic cuts. Officials have minimal or no knowledge of the public service sector. They risk their lives everyday and now they expect them to do it without enough to do it safely. End result is more buildings burn to the ground and that further reduces the tax base creating an neverending downward spiral.
Don Snorek Don Snorek Saturday, December 01, 2012 5:24:30 PM Out of all the articles about cities reducing the size of their Public Safety personal, I have yet to see anything about the Mayors taking pay cuts or reducing their staffs. Just once it would be nice to see the little guy get to save his job while the big guys gets the axe! No pun intended.
Russell Joseph Russell Joseph Saturday, December 01, 2012 8:10:54 PM HAHAHAHA good joke, a mayor cutting their own pay? Classic joke.
Russell Joseph Russell Joseph Saturday, December 01, 2012 8:11:23 PM Doing more with less for so long we are qualified to do everything with nothing
Wayne Heaton Wayne Heaton Sunday, December 02, 2012 6:16:39 AM So these firefighters, JUST ONE PART OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT, sacrificed and saved A QUARTER of the city's budget gap are repaid by laying off 11. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
Tom Kelly Tom Kelly Sunday, December 02, 2012 2:10:24 PM The leaders fail the people.
Dirk Janiak Dirk Janiak Sunday, December 02, 2012 5:45:12 PM WTF
Dave Kane Dave Kane Sunday, December 02, 2012 6:16:08 PM Firefighter, teacher and police unions have been taking so much heat because anti-union people say we're just "greedy union thugs". We'll here's a prime example of why we fight so hard to keep the things we have. Here you have a firefighter union trying to help their city out, only to have it rammed up their asses! We simply cannot trust the people on the other side of the negotiating table!
Joseph Horst Joseph Horst Sunday, December 02, 2012 9:44:58 PM So the Public safety personnel have to be the ones that are required to work harder for less when they had nothing to do with the budget problems in the first place. I don't mind thinking of ways to save money but to expect a fire dept. etc. to solve a budget gap that large is totally stupid.
Claire De Virgilio Claire De Virgilio Wednesday, December 12, 2012 3:55:48 AM Those guys put there life on the line,cutting more firefighters is deadly for these people who have to fight fires.

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