UNIONTOWN, Pa. --
Seven City of Uniontown firefighters, laid off for economic reasons, asked a judge to reinstate them immediately on Thursday.
Those who lost their jobs argue their contracts require notice, something they say they weren't given, but the city contends they have no money to pay them.
"We're here right now because we do not have the money to pay the bills. I think right now we have about $15,000 or $16,000 in the general fund and we will be very fortunate if in the next week we will be able to make payroll. It's a sad day," said Mayor Ed Fike.
The union attorney said the firefighters and city residents are in danger.
With only two or three firefighters working at a time, they say there's not enough to perform a safe search and rescue.
During a call last month, the crew had to wait five minutes for volunteers to arrive before they could go inside a burning home.
The fire claimed the life of an elderly woman inside.
The judge did not order the city to call firefighters back to work, but he convinced parties to speed up the arbitration process, and in the meantime, rely on volunteers.
"We feel very confident going forward that we will be successful in grievance arbitration and that in the future we are gong to be able to work matters out, the people of Uniontown are going to get excellent fire service and firefighters will be able to keep their job," said union attorney Joshua Bloom.
An arbitrator will hear arguments from both sides the week of March 9.
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