Hugo Lays Off Firefighters & EMS

8-30-06 - The city of Hugo has laid off 8 firefighters amid cutbacks the city blames on losing an ambulance contract.

At 1:30pm on Wednesday, the fire chief and assistant city manager walked into the station and read the names of eight firefighters who were being laid off. The city chose employees who had been with the department the least amount of time.

The layoffs come after the Choctaw Ambulance Authority accepted a bid from Southwest EMS, a private provider out of Arkansas.

"We don't have the money to retain them without the ambulance authority. The authority was paying for manpower we provided to run the ambulances," said Mayor Stan Payne.

Kelly Hammack, one of the firefighters who lost his job, says “It's disappointing, but we all knew it was coming. I've only been here 3 months, so it was a given that I was gonna be one of the ones laid off."

The fire department is part of a local union and is filing a lawsuit against the city. They say they are in violation of labor laws.

The city has already said they plan to sue the ambulance authority for unfair bid practices.


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