Layoffs come Friday in Fall River Fire Department

Fall River Fire Department

About two dozen Fall River firefighters will be out of a job as of Friday because a $14 million grant that pays their salaries is expiring.

Mayor Will Flanagan said in February that about 60 layoffs were imminent, but the mayor said Thursday that the number has been cut to about 25.

"I've been working with the fire chief to make sure that we are protected here in the city of Fall River. I have the utmost confidence in our fire chief and he has put a plan in place to make sure our response times are where they need to be," Flanagan said.

Come 5 p.m. Friday, the roster of first responders will be thinner. Twenty-fire firefighters will be laid off, a move designed to save the city about $2.5 million.

But the mayor said it's temporary.

"I've been able to sit down with the head of the firefighters' union here in Fall River and come up with a game plan in the next couple of years to make sure that any firefighter who has been displaced due to the expiration of the SAFER grant will be hired back," Flanagan said.

(SAFER stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.)

Trying to lessen the blow are firefighters like William Mello, a 28-year veteran of the department. He and seven others are retiring to help save some jobs.

"My life is going to change. I don't know how it's going to change, how it's going to be, but we'll go one day at a time," Mello said.

Mello said that this is a tough decision for the mayor but assures the public that even though the 175-man staff isn't as large as it should be, the members of the department are dedicated to their jobs.

"Every guy is very proud to be on this job, you know? They work with their heart and soul," Mello said.

The mayor said he is using a new sanitation plan as part of a way to increase revenue coming into the city and that the revenue can be reinvested into rehiring firefighters.