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Detroit Fire Department Faces Layoffs, Mayor Calls For 18 Percent Force Reduction

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After a night spent battling a wave of blazes on the city's east side, captured on video by Detroit Urbex, members of the Detroit Fire Department found themselves having to respond to more bad news from the mayor's office.

In a statement released Monday, Mayor Dave Bing announced Detroit would be cutting 164 firefighters -- more than 18 percent of its force-- by the end of July. He expects to eventually restore 108 of those positions with funding from a federal grant. Most of the remaining 56 firefighters will be eliminated through attrition. The department currently has a total staff of 1,257.

Although Detroit's arson squad does not yet know who set the 16 fires Sunday night on the city's east side, the layoffs hardly come as a complete surprise. In April Bing announced he would be eliminating nearly 2,600 jobs in order to balance the city's budget and stave off a financial crisis. The city is also planning on removing 380 police officers as a result of these austerity measures, according to the Detroit News.

"Since I became Mayor, I’ve made public safety my top priority and I’ve said I would protect the jobs of police and firefighters, but fiscal realities have made this untenable," Bing said in his statement. "Laying off any of our courageous and dedicated public safety personnel is the last thing I want to do at this point, but I have to face this hard reality."

Responding to the mayor's announcement, Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Firefighters Association, warned that the layoffs could have tragic consequences.

“We used to tell everybody in the city that if you call us we’ll be there and we don’t know if it’s going to be that way anymore,” he told CBS Detroit.

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