Huntington Firefighters To Go Back To Work

By Brien McElhatten

Huntington Firefighters To Go Back To Work

July 19, 2010 Updated Jul 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Six firefighters laid off last year will head back to work in August.

The Huntington Board of Public Works and Safety voted to accept the $800,000 grant that will pay the salaries and benefits of the firefighters for the next two years.

Huntington's fire chief says he's relieved.

"It will take of some of the stress that we've had," said Chief Matt Armstrong. "We'll be able to open up the station on the east side of town."

Station two, on Condit Street, was closed last November and six firefighters lost their jobs as the city faced a $1.7 million budget gap.

Since then, yellow signs in support of the firefighters have been spotted in front yards across the city.

"The Mayor has given me 100-percent that he's behind bringing these firefighters back." said Armstrong.

Mayor Steve Updike had been hesitant to accept the grant, after learning the city would have to pay the firefighters for the first three months of the grant period, and then wait to be reimbursed.

According to Armstrong, that period has been reduced to three weeks.

The firefighters will return in shifts beginning August 15th.

While their positions will only be safe for two years, Chief Armstrong says he's hopeful they will keep their jobs longer than that.

"Hopefully the economy will pick enough and we can keep these firefighters employed. We'll probably have some retirements in that period."

That could be good news for the men of station number 2.

Mayor Updike and members of the fire department will make an official announcement later this week.

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