Layoffs Announced in Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE -- The city of Wilkes-Barre announced four more furloughs. This time in the public works department.

It comes a day after 11 firefighters learned they will temporarily lose their jobs.

Between the DPW workers and firefighters, that's 15 temporary layoffs announced in two days.

The cuts go into effect on Saturday.

The Wilkes-Barre fire chief said service to the public will not be affected.

There was an early morning fire on Hurley Street in Wilkes-Barre on Friday.

The homeowner, Kimberly Walsh was burned and is in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and for some of the firefighters, it was the last fire they'll battle for a while.

The layoffs come just in time for the holidays, and what fire chief Jay Delaney said is the department's busiest season.

“It's our busiest time of the year for medical emergencies, extension cord fires, candle fires. People use innovative ways to heat their houses,” said Chief Delaney.

John Harris knows how busy the department is.

He lives around the corner from the fire station and hears the emergency calls come in all the time.

“I mean on any given night, they could go out five, six times at any time, any weather," said Harris.

The chief said despite the layoffs, both fire engines the department has will still be used everyday for every shift.

He also said all shifts would remain fully staffed, with 11 firefighters and two paramedics.

People who live and work in Wilkes-Barre are still concerned for their safety and for the firefighters who were laid off.

“It's not good, not good for them or their kids. They actually, they do a lot of little things for the community that you wouldn't think," said Harris.

“It's just a shame that they have to try to do more with less,” said Chuck Lake, a Wilkes-Barre business owner.

Altogether between retirements and voluntary and mandatory furloughs, Wilkes-Barre has reduced its city workforce by 29 people, but they're still $2 million in the hole for 2012.

Again, Mayor Tom Leighton hopes the layoffs will be temporary.