CALEXICO, Calif. - The city of Calexico has issued several layoff notices to firefighters due to a shortage of funds in what they call a significant budget crisis.
We spoke to some of those firefighters who received the letter earlier this week.
A total of six firefighters received the layoff notice and while they are remaining optimistic, there is also a concern for the safety of the community.
“My reaction to it, I was hurt. I was upset. It wasn't unexpected, we did have an idea that this would be a possibility, but this is my job, I love my job, I love my city of Calexico,” said Joel Rivera, Firefighter and Paramedic, City of Calexico Fire Dept.
The 30 day notice was given on the 19th of February making the firefighters last day of work March 19th.
“As busy as this department is, where we are running now an excess of 4,000 medical calls a year, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of workload for each of the firefighters. If we were to be six short aside from whatever we are short already it’s just going to be dangerous,” explained Raul Canizales, Firefighter/EMT, City of Calexico Fire Dept.
With a population of close to 40,000 people in Calexico and national recommendations being one firefighter per every thousand people, the city of Calexico is already understaffed.
“We did hire a forensic auditor who was able to do his research, and he was able to find other ways that they could possibly pay for the six firefighters and keep our services,” added Rivera.
The city currently has two fire stations but is in danger of losing fire station number two because of the cut backs.
“We’re very optimistic; we're hoping that we can come to an agreement. I understand that this is business, this is not personal against us, it's not personal against the fire department. If there is going to be cuts and layoffs, the police department and the fire department probably shouldn't be your first go to,” expressed Canizales.
Our news team reached out to the city manager's office for comment but they have yet to get back to us.
A public forum is scheduled for February 28th where a presentation will be given by a financial auditor hired by the firefighters in danger of being laid off.