STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - The Staunton Professional Fire Fighters Organization has publicly denounced City Council’s decision to furlough firefighters along with other city employees.
The 2021 budget calls for four furlough days for firefighters. Each shift is 24 hours, so that is 16 more furlough hours than other city employees.
Retired Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Simmons says the firefighters are always asked to do more with less, and they always step up and do it, but he says this is a little too much.
“They’re our frontline people and they’re in an ever-changing environment every day, and they put their lives on the line. And they just pray to God that they don’t catch this virus and take it home to their families,” Simmons said. “And then to be furloughed, you know it’s just, it’s not only disrespectful and a slap in the face to them, but also to the citizens of Staunton and the businesses.”
City Manager Steve Rosenberg declined an interview but issued a statement on behalf of the City.
“This extremely challenging budget process required us to make difficult choices in a very abbreviated timeframe to respond to a sudden and dramatic loss of revenues. The adopted budget balances the service needs of the community and the well-being of our organization with the very real economic hardship being imposed on our citizens and businesses. The decision to furlough employees the equivalent of one day per month for 10 months across every level of the organization, with very few exceptions, was implemented to avoid significantly more painful measures including layoffs and salary reductions, or an increase in property taxes. We regret that we were unable to avoid outcomes that will have consequences for employees and the entire community, however, we believe the adopted budget establishes a path forward in a time of uncertainty, with flexibility to redirect in response to future developments.”