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Baltimore City Firefighters Say Budget Cuts Would 'Put Citizens In Harms Way'

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Two Baltimore City fire stations are facing cuts to their trucks and staff because of the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of firefighters went door to door on Wednesday, collecting signatures from neighbors to present to the mayor. They say making these cuts puts hundreds of lives at risk.

The petition is the latest push to keep two Baltimore City engines from falling victim to budget cuts.

"They saved my life," said neighbor Shane Heberle.

Mayor Jack Young's 2021 budget would cut Engine 4 in northeast Baltimore and Engine 55 and Pigtown.

The firefighters who work there would be shifted to other locations.

The Baltimore Fire Union says those engines carry water and medical equipment, so getting rid of them will increase response times and put lives at risk.

Dickie Altieri is President of Baltimore Fire Fighters Local 734.

"If they're not here, we have a fire around the corner, then we have to rely on the next fire engine available," he said. "What if they're out? That response time becomes even greater."

Stephen Horchar is of the President Baltimore Fire Officers Association.

"It's not fair to our members." Horchar said. "It puts them in harms way. It puts citizens in harms way."

City councilmembers say they've reallocated money to keep the engines open, but the final decision falls to Mayor Young.

Neighbors tell WJZ they feel safer knowing the engine is there.

"It's the closest and only one they have over in this neighborhood. It's needed," resident Peggy Adams said.

Firefighters say they plan on holding a second rally on Thursday outside Engine 4 in northeast Baltimore.

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