A statement from Fire Chief John Lyman regarding the layoffs of 39 firefighters:
Today, October 15, 2015, marks the final day for the SAFER employees. We are very thankful for their time here, and wish them the best. I would like you to know that we have been contacted by several fire departments and EMS agencies from within SE Michigan, even Anchorage, Alaska, looking to hire these fine men and women. This information is being distributed to them as it comes into the Fire Department. We hope that they will continue on in emergency services.
In April of 2013 we hired 39 new firefighters through the SAFER grant sponsored by FEMA/DHS. These were brand new positions that were created for a 2 year time frame. Everyone hired and all fire department personnel knew that there may come a time where they would have to be laid off. This grant and these new firefighters would allow us to provide unprecedented, exceptional service to all the residents that we serve. We were able to staff fire engines in Waterford with 4 full-time career firefighters, something that most suburban fire departments never get the chance to experience. These firefighters entered burning homes to rescue someone unconscious and trapped. They would grab their hoseline and charge into a burning structure to save property. They responded to automobile accidents with people trapped, using the jaws of life to extricate the victim, provide paramedic level EMS care and transport them to a hospital. They did CPR on an infant and saved her life. In April of 2015, we were allowed by FEMA to extend it for 6 more months, which brings us to day. It is my hope that we can submit another SAFER application in January of 2016 to bring these men and women back.
All residents in Waterford, Pontiac and the City of Lake Angelus need to know that when you call 911 for emergency service from the Waterford Regional Fire Department, WE WILL BE THERE. We will be ready, we are willing and we are able to serve. We will continue to have firefighters in fire stations in Pontiac and Waterford. We will return to a staffing level that is at or near where we were in 2013. All of our remaining fire officers and firefighters are hard working caring individuals that will continue to work as a team to provide excellence in emergency services, from Firefighting, Basic and Advanced EMS care, Hazmat, and Technical Rescue. Our Training Division will continue to provide quality training to our personnel and will continue to educate the public through our EMS Academy. Further, we will continue to work in the schools in our jurisdiction, providing first-rate fire safety education. Our Fire Prevention Division will continue to inspect buildings for life safety issues and to investigate fires as called upon to do so.
I thank the Waterford Township Board and Budget personnel for their support and assistance with this grant. Together we have worked to enhance this vital service we provide at the fire department, and I am confident that we will continue to do so. It is important to note that the Township Board is not in any way responsible for these 39 firefighters being laid off. This was a 24 month grant from the Federal Government, which we were able to stretch to 30 months, period.
I thank the residents of Waterford for placing their trust in the Waterford Regional Fire Department. We will carry on the great traditions of the fire service and stand at the ready to serve as needed.
If you have any concerns please contact me at Fire Department Headquarters at 248.673.0405, Monday through Friday.