Rumors swirl Ecorse could eliminate fire department

One Downriver community might be losing its fire department.

Firefighters are worried in financially-strapped Ecorse that they could be facing the ax.

City officials are urging calm, saying that the information leaked from a confidential negotiation. That sparked debate and rumors which led to Tuesday's city council meeting.

One firefighter says it isn't a rumor, because he claims to have heard it from the city administrator.

Residents were hot under the collar, sounding off at a packed city council meeting after hearing rumors their fire department could be dissolved.

"If I have to give up more money to keep my fire department (I will)," said one resident at the meeting. "Because when I go to work, go on vacation, I know they got my back. They're watching my house."

"Three years ago we lost eight firefighters to cuts," said Sgt. Mark Wilson. "Why are cuts coming from Fire department. Can anybody answer that."

Ron Westermann has been an Ecorse firefighter for more than 20 years.

"At my age what do I do," he said. "The citizens who are they going to call?"

But Public Safety Director Michael Moore is urging calm.

"That's a little premature at this point," he said. "We're in negotiations with other cities."

Ecorse is under state oversight and to better get its finances in order it is being encouraged to consolidate fire operations with a neighboring town like River Rouge or Lincoln Park.

Moore says someone involved in those confidential talks has loose lips

"Alot of things went back and forth across the table," he said. "And just a little bit of information got out and everybody got scared and ran with it."

But these firefighters are not buying it

"First of all, (Wayne) O' Neal you told me Wednesday of last week you were eliminating us," Wilson said. "This is not a rumor."

O'Neal believes his words were misinterpreted.

There is no word how soon the department could be disolved, and Moore said it could be a "very long time."

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