One month until Saginaw loses 13 of its firefighters

The city of Saginaw will lose 13 of its firefighters January 31. (Photo credit: Amanda Chodnicki)

In about one month, the city of Saginaw will close one of its fire stations and lose 13 of its firefighters.

Many of them are young and just starting out and others, have families to support.

One of the unlucky 13, John Starling, said the holidays have been a reminder of the challenges that lie ahead.

"Couldn't give the best gifts to people and stuff like that," Starling said. "Have to work with what you got."

For him, he said, it hasn't been the happiest of holidays.

"It's really sinking in," Starling said. "There's only a few shifts left for us."

The closer it gets to the new year, the closer it gets to saying goodbye to the Saginaw Fire Department.

This is because the SAFER grant, which funded the salaries of 13 employees, was not renewed.

"It's an awesome job and knowing that you have to leave it is a little depressing," Starling said.

Starling said what made it harder was that he was beginning to follow in his father's footsteps, working as a firefighter for the city.

"I parked in the same spot my dad parked in," he said. "I sleep in the same bunk that my dad got to sleep in... it's kind of the family history and tradition."

Not only is this difficult for Starling, but it weighs on the department as a whole.

"Anytime you lose personnel it has an effect," the Saginaw Firefighter's Union Vice President said. "When you get to know these people personally... their lives, their families, it's tough."

Vice President Brandon Hausbeck said they plan to do whatever they can to bring these employees back.

"Whether it's a SAFER grant, whether it's working to get the tax cap lifted, whether it's some other source of revenue... the union has always been good partners with the city and we'd like to continue to be," he said.

Until then, Starling said he plans to work as hard as he did his first day on the job.

The last day for those 13 employees is January 31.

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