26 Portland Fire & Rescue positions on chopping block

26 Portland Fire & Rescue positions on chopping block
Portland firefighters battle a two-alarm fire at R and J Recycling Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Portland Fire & Rescue)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The future of 26 Portland Fire & Rescue staffers is in limbo, as the city is trying to salvage the positions that are up for elimination in October.

The staffers were handed layoff notices Tuesday as a result of the city’s trimmed-down budget. The layoffs are set to happen on Oct. 9.

In the meantime, however, Portland city officials said they plan to seek federal funding to salvage those 26 positions.

The city is considering applying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for the positions. The deadline to apply is Aug. 30.

“What we don’t know yet is what strings are attached to the FEMA grant,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement. “The rules for the grant already have been delayed by months and we’re just now finally seeing them. We want to read the rules carefully before we decide to apply.”

As part of the city’s 2013-2014 budget, each city bureau was asked to reduce its budget by 10 percent. After the Portland City Council rejected a proposal to close seven fire stations, the 26 positions went on the chopping block.

The layoff notices were the city’s latest and last result of the scaled-back budget approved this past spring. Other bureaus saw layoff notices in June.