Mass. chief braces for up to 30 firefighter layoffs

Fire Chief Brian Murphy said he would be forced to close fire stations or mothball trucks

By Edward Mason
The Boston Herald

LAWRENCE, Mass. — The Lawrence fire chief says he has been told to brace for 25 to 30 layoffs by the state appointed financial overseer, a move he predicts will cause a public safety crisis in the city.

"We're at a dangerous level now," said Fire Chief Brian Murphy. "This would be ridiculous. It would be dangerous to the citizens of Lawrence."

The warning came at a meeting last Friday in Lawrence between Murphy, overseer Robert Nunes and Mayor William Lantigua's chief of staff.

Murphy said the officials said their plan was to decide on a budget by June 1 and layoffs by July 1. As the meeting broke up, Murphy said Nunes told him: "There'll be major cuts. Plan on 25 to 30 layoffs."

The cuts, if implemented, would drop Lawrence's firefighting force from 100 to between 70 and 75, enough for a city half of Lawrence's 72,000 people, he said. Murphy said he would be forced to close fire stations or mothball trucks. Nunes and Lantigua could not be reached last night. The state has allowed Lawrence to borrow $35 million. It is unclear what cuts police, schools and other departments might face.

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