Some experienced Hartford firefighters are saying they are being forced to retire under the mayor’s proposed budget cuts.
Mayor Luke Bronin has been forced to make some tough decisions, and the city is facing a nearly $50 million deficit.
However, firefighters said they think the mayor’s proposed cuts could cause an even bigger crisis if up to 90 firefighters retire.
“As you know, it's a life and death situation, firefighting. And if you don't have the experience of running the fire you don't know what's going on,” said Hartford Firefighter Jim Malizia.
Under the mayor’s proposed plan, anywhere between 70 and 90 firefighters, with 20-plus years’ experience, could retire between the end of this month and June.
“I believe all seven chiefs have put in, most captains and 53 officers in all,” Malizia said.
Four out of the five training staff members may also throw in the towel too.
“Most guys enjoy the job like I do, we don't want to leave but we feel like we are being forced out,” Malizia said.
They said the cuts require firefighters to take a pay cut, work more hours and have part of their pension plan taken away.
Under those conditions, Malizia says firefighters who've served for 20 years will actually "lose" money by staying on the job, so they're better off retiring.
“We still got years left to build our pensions, we all didn't plan to leave, we all have families. It's just interrupts everything,” Malizia said.
The cuts come as the city tries to balance its books...and reconcile a $50 million deficit.
Bronin says the previous administration was irresponsible with money.
Firefighters worry the cuts, and so many retirements, could lead to an inexperienced staff fighting a fire.
“Lose all the leadership and not going to be safe for the citizens or the firefighters left there because they don't have all the experience these guys are leaving with,” Malizia said.
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