Firefighters march to City Hall over planned layoffs as result of Prop B pay raises

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of firefighters and their families rallied for a march to City Hall after Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the layoffs of up to 500 city employees, mostly firefighters.

RELATED: Up to 500 layoffs now eyed as HFD pay raises confirmed

"We're going to have to bring more resources from other parts of the city to do what we're already doing. So, that leaves more parts of the city uncovered for longer periods of time," said Brian Wilcox, a Houston firefighter and communications director for the Houston Professional Firefighters Association.

Mayor Turner's plan comes after he attempted to fund Proposition B, which gives firefighters a pay raise to be more aligned with Houston police officers' income.

The proposition was approved by voters in November, but did not come with a funding source.

"The best solution would have been to phase the cost of Proposition B in over five years, and that way firefighters, municipal works and no one else would be hurt because of Prop B," said Mayor Turner.

He also said that the firefighters union rejected his deal.

"It's not parity. It doesn't include stuff in parity. I wish he would stop calling it parity because it's not parity," Wilcox said.

Firefighters say another causality of the layoffs is the potential closure of fire stations. The union released a list of six fire stations facing possible closure.

The stations on the list for possible closure are:
  • Station 41 - 805 Pearl
  • Station 57 - 13602 Memorial
  • Station 63 - 5626 Will Clayton Drive
  • Station 66 - 5800 Teague
  • Station 72 - 17401 Saturn Lane
  • Station 104 - 910 Forest Cove Drive

Station 20 and Station 7 may also remove their ladder trucks, but remain open.

Sitting under a plume of black smoke from the ITC fire in Deer Park, Houston Fire Station number 41 has been serving the Pleasantville neighborhood in northeast Houston for decades.

"That would be devastating for this neighborhood, because a majority of people out here are elderly, and I see the ambulance out here quite often," said neighbor Nellie Manning.

Both sides say they are still hopeful for a different solution, but it would have to be quick.

"There has been times where I had to call neighbors, and they were just right up the street. It didn't take them three to four minutes to get here. But now, you have to worry about the response time," neighbor Thaddeus Ross said.

Layoff notices will be handed out in April, giving those hundreds of employees a 60-days notice.

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