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Budget ax falls on Fire Dept.

Byline: Matthew Bruun

FITCHBURG - Seven Fire Department officers were told this week they were being demoted and another five received layoff notices, Fire Chief Kevin D. Roy said yesterday.

The reorganization is the latest result of the city's ongoing financial woes.

Chief Roy said another five vacancies in the department will not be filled in ther new fiscal year, which starts July 1..

"If this budget stands we'll have lost 35 positions over the last five years," the chief said. "We have to run a fire department and we have to run it as best we can."

The department had a complement of 97 in 2004 and will be down to 62 in the new fiscal year unless positions are restored, the chief said.

Four captains were notified Thursday they would be reduced in rank to lieutenant and three lieutenants will be demoted to firefighter, according to the chief.

The cuts translate into pay cuts of 15 percent on top of a 3 percent wage reduction the mayor is seeking from all city employees.

Chief Roy said he had sought to leave the captains in place and instead demote just lieutenants, but learned this week that Mayor Lisa A. Wong was seeking to demote the higher-ranking positions. The mayor was not immediately available for comment late yesterday.

Chief Roy said the captains handle many administrative duties and their roles had already been expanded with the elimination of two deputy chiefs' positions in budget cuts in recent years.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 13, 2009
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