Firefighters in Fall River won't be losing their jobs after all. A federal grant has spared them.
There were cheers from firefighters and city leaders as Senator John Kerry traveled to the city to present a $14.5 million check saving their department from being cut in half.
"I felt appreciative and I also felt happy for the other 79 guys that are on the grants," said firefighter Jason Burns, "I was laid off. It was a terrible feeling, and I'm still feeling the effects of the layoff from 2009."
Burns is one of the firefighters whose job was on the chopping block. The six year veteran couldn't afford to get laid off again. He has three kids to put through college.
"It was always in the back of my head," said Burns, "It's just the way I deal with things, I didn't want to think about it every day. I didn't discuss it with anybody at home."
His chief said he thought about it all the time. Losing those firefighters and two fire stations could put people's lives at risk, especially with all the arson fires in the city this year. At one point, there were three of them in just two months.
"Had we not gotten the grant, those 79 positions wouldn't be funded," said Chief William Silvia, "Plus, we probably would have had to lay off an additional 30 to 40 positions in order to fund the unemployment for those people."
Thankfully, the grant came through. "We received not just the largest safer grant in Massachusetts, not just the largest "S.A.F.E.R Grant" this year, we received the largest in the history of S.A.F.E.R," said Mayor William Flanagan.
But it's not a permanent solution. It's only enough money for two years. After that, the city is on its own. Meaning Burns could be back in this position all over again.
City leaders have already been told, the Fed's can't bail them out again. The fire chief said it's unlikely the city will be able to come up with enough money to keep all 232 firefighters.