MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dressed in bright red T-shirts, standing at the steps of Minneapolis City Hall, came the 10 human faces of firefighter layoffs. Four-year veteran firefighter Jonathan McClellan is among them. But the father of four is more concerned for the safety of his colleagues than the economic pain his unemployment will bring.

“What’s the meaning of this, is the safety of the city. For my brothers and sisters on the fire department this is going to affect their safety and possibly their lives,” McClellan said.

Flanked by the yellow shirts worn by fellow firefighters, the 10 who are losing their jobs came to city hall to sound an alarm. They maintain that the department is already dangerously thin and cutting further risks playing a dangerous game.

Because of a $23 million reduction in local government aid from the state, the city is being forced to make sweeping cuts in all of its departments. The fire department’s share will result in the loss of 10 union positions, putting the minimum daily staffing level under the 96 the council had earlier determined was safe.

At a meeting of the city council’s Ways and Means Committee, Fire Chief Alex Jackson was asked to characterize the impact of the cuts.

“To be honest with you, 93 is cutting it in my opinion, cutting it way too short,” he said. “But I’m in compliance with the budget the city has.”

Jackson also talked about the complicated nature of the situation. He said they have to take into account overtime, military leave, injured firefighters and vacations. And the reductions in staff could end up costing even more money.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

Cutting the number of fire engines the department can staff will also result in shifting between stations. To show their concern, firefighters jammed into the third floor council chambers where the committee was meeting. While their T-shirts sent a strong message to the mayor over their displeasure, he was not in attendance.

Mayor Rybak’s spokesman, John Stiles said the mayor is “never happy about laying off firefighters,” but added that, “something has to give.”

To that, Firefighters Local 82 President Mark Lakosky responded that the mayor’s “something” should be discretionary programs, not core emergency services.

“Mayor Rybak, you need to fund public safety and protect the citizens of Minneapolis, as you were elected to do,” Lakosky said. “You need to govern with what’s right for the citizens and not for re-election.”

The full City Council will meet on Friday to decide if the cuts can go forward without compromising safety, or if the cuts present too large of risk.

Comments (11)

    How about they all take a pay cut to save the ten jobs?? If you offer all the fire fighter jobs at $5hr less you would fill them all !!!! Over paid!! VOLUNTEER!!

    1. Work together, not against says:

      That works in small towns, where a volunteer firefighter can leave his/her regular job and be to the fire station in minutes. Try that in Minneapolis and see what the response time to fires is. Plus, all those “volunteers” get one heck of a pension, so it’s not completely volunteer. The pay cut on the other hand, not a bad idea…

  2. jiffy says:

    Even worse, RT is going to raise property taxes again! While cutting core services. He is a disgrace. Cut social programs for the people that move here from Chicago for free food, apartments and transportation., not core services. Vote him out!!!!!!

    1. Jake says:

      Coleman in St. Paul will raise property taxes TOO, and that’s not even counting a new vikings stadium, and teddy mondale now has a second gig to keep the money flowing in. Unbelievable. The dfl in this state should be investigated for violating the RICO Act.

    2. Davis G says:

      These cuts are in response to cuts from the state. Why should the rest of the state have to subsidize welfare programs and every thing else in the cities? This isn’t RT’s fault, it goes back to whoever started redistributing the wealth from the rest of the state to MSP.

  3. Jake says:

    As a father of four, I sincerely DOUBT that Jonathan McCellan’s number one priority is for the safety of his fellow firefighters. I would think that his NUMBER ONE PRIORITY would be about preserving his family’s standard of living, which would be understandable, if HE HAD SAID IT. But his statement made it sound as though he would sacrifice his family before his fellow firefighters, and I AIN’T BUYING IT. Blood runs thicker than water, RIGHT?? His loyalty towards his co-workers and union is understandable, his priorities are not. He’s low on the seniority list, so he is among the first to lose. He thinks his union will save him, he’s about to learn a very hard lesson.

  4. Angus says:

    Why don’t we save more money by getting rid of all fire fighters? Maybe the police too. Then the property taxes would be less and the rich don’t have to pay their fair share of taxes. Simple and easy.

    This last winter the fire fighters building temp was 64 so their gear would not dry between runs. They do not sit around playing checkers and their job is highly skilled, not “Put the wet stuff on the red stuff”. Besides firefighting they are also EMTs to provide medical assistance. Their average age of death is below the national average due to their jobs. You complainers should go to a station and see what they go through in their shifts. It is a brutal and dangerous job. We are fortunate we have not lost a firefighter in the last few years.

    Incidentally, under the leadership of our beloved Gov. Timmy the Twerp his administration showed that people on public assistance that move out of the state each year balance the number moving to the state.

    The problem is you elected Republicans who only believe in cut the taxes and they do not worry about the consequences. After all, they have good incomes, in the metro area live in suburbs that have money to provide for their fire fighters, police, and EMS. Please, get out into the real world and see what is happening. England had riots partly because they saw the millions spent on a wedding by the government who in turn are placing the cost on the backs of the poor and unemployed. I hope it does not happen here

    1. Melissa says:

      So what do you define as “fair share”? What percentage of their income would you want to tax? I love it when people think that taxing the wealthy will solve all our problems. Do you realize how many people the wealthy employ? Most of them are business owners, professionals in their given field of work. My livelyhood mostly depends on the wealthy staying wealthy. But really, tell me what percentage is “fair”? For those who actually work, actually pay taxes, actually seek to better not just their own lives, but the lives in their community, for those who donate huge amounts of money to all the non-profits that would not exist without them, those that award college scholarships to qualifying young people, those that invest their money, those that motivate and inspire those who work for them, I want to say thank you. You are not just a bunch of fat cats sitting around a conference table. You are hard working and a worker deserves his wages. I’m tired of the wealthy being targeted as the bad guys, full of greed and all kinds of evil. I know not ALL wealthy individuals are good natured people who deserve the money they work, or don’t work for, but not all poor people are good natured either. Money is not the root of evil. The verse actually says it’s the LOVE of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. You can love money whether you have it or you don’t. Money in and of itself does not make anyone good or evil. So while my husband goes to work at 6:30 am and comes home at 6pm, I get to be at home with my great kids and thank the Lord for the wealthy, cause my husband just refinished their kitchen, their basement, their bathroom, their roof, their windows……….

  5. The Trend says:

    Why don’t they keep these guys and can Bonnie Bleskacheck?

  6. HMM says:

    If you think losing 10 firefighters out of over 400, there are 19 stations, so relativly speaking every other station will lose 1 firefighter, and people seem to think this will have an epic impact on safety? There cutting 2% of the force, I think if we coulod find a way for them to only respond to calls that are necessary then we could probably cut 100 more, Make half the firefighters paid full time, and have 400 volunteers, it’s 2011 cuts will be everywhere.

  7. Goob says:

    How ’bout cutting 2% of the middle management?? I’m sure there is a pile of unnecessary people shuffelling paperwork here and there.

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