Sept. 30--EAST ST. LOUIS -- Today is the day for massive layoffs in the East St. Louis Fire Department.
Officials had sent layoff notices earlier this month to 19 of the department's 54 employees. The move comes after a federal grant ran out earlier this year.
Mayor Alvin Parks on Monday morning said he thinks the layoffs will actually affect 18 firefighters, not 19.
"At this point they understand will not be coming back on Oct. 1," he said.
Two of those jobs, however, will be rescue the next day, he added. Their salaries will be picked up by the city's general fund. Next year, he said, he hopes the city can restore eight more jobs if it can find additional money in the budget.
Additionally, the city's fire chief is going to apply for a new federal grant.
"Everything is very much in the works," Parks said.
"We're looking to bring back as many firefighters as quickly as we can," Parks said. "That's the most important aspect, to make sure the city is as safe and secure as possible but also we want to be fiscally responsible."
The firefighters' union is fighting the layoffs.
Firefighter Brian Gregory, one of those who got a layoff letter, said the union has a hearing in St. Clair court this afternoon to try to stop the layoffs. Their argument is that the union contract had required the city have 58 firefighters, Gregory said.
One of the 19 is a lieutenant and won't be affected because he is also a captain in the Army and is on a temporary military assignment.
"We're hopeful that we can come to some type of understanding. There is money in the budget that isn't dedicated to anything else right now and it's more than enough to maintain the firefighters' salaries through the rest of the year," Gregory said.
To read more about the layoffs, click here.
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